My friend Meg died last week and we held a remembrance for her Saturday. Rocky Mountain dead social get-togethers are nothing like the ornate, formal wallowings of the South, or the drunken melees of Ireland, or even the celebrations of life they put on in California. Western events tend to be more low-key neighborhood potlucks.
Meg’s remembrance was a cookie exchange. Leila made fudpuckers, which are Reece’s cups dropped into shells made from peanut butter cookie dough. The occasion was sad and dignified, without the outward pretensions of sadness. The Wyoming way is to feel deeply but keep it to yourself. Keep the smooth side up and the rough side down.
Afterward, I hiked up Taggart Creek to my favorite thinking rock — the place where we scattered Mom’s ashes a couple of years ago — and worked out the percentages of this death thing.
You should know that about me. I work out percentages on any given problem. There’s a fictional detective — Hercule Poirot, I think, but I’m not about to go look up it up. Blogs should not need research — who likes to say, “Rule out the impossible and what you are left with will be the answer, no matter how unlikely it appears to be.” Or something like that.
So I discarded the after-life theories that struck me as impossible and looked at what was left, which wasn’t much.
First off, I think of the Great Mystery out there beyond what we can see as the internet, and the various faith systems floating around as browsers and search engines. For instance, Christianity is the AOL of spiritualism, because the user’s manual says one thing and the practitioners do the exact opposite. How Pat Robertson can pray on TV and make all that money is totally bizarre to anyone who has read Jesus’s parables. But, whatever. If it gets you into the Web, it works.
Personally, I use Safari, which is a bit like the Cheyenne Medicine Wheel. It’s only useful if you are Cheyenne or own a Mac. Everyone else is out of luck. You could stretch the hell out of this thing and equate Muslims with Internet Explorer and Buddhists with Firefox, but what the hell. You get the idea. It comes down to access.
As I sat on my rock, watching the leaves change color, I wasn’t concerned so much with the door as to what lies on the other side. Odds-wise (what a cool word, odds-wise) you would figure a white-out would be logical. No sequel. Ashes to ashes. But, for me, the void doesn’t compute. I look back at eternity, stretching forever and ever off one way, and forward, at eternity stretching forever and ever off the other way, and then compute the odds against this moment, a dot in an eternal number of dots, just coming up. These odds are way beyond the odds against streets of gold, or happy hunting grounds, or recycling, or any of the Wishful Thinking theories. The odds against Wishful Thinking being true are one in the number of digits of pi, but the odds against this random moment appearing on its own, compared to the number of moments randomness implies, are way the hell and gone past that.
Which means, either time does not exist — Tralfamdorianism — or there is something going on that is unlikely. Compared to nothing going on which is impossible.
My personal theory is we’re in a computer game. Reincarnation only with a physical machine somewhere instead of a spirit that leaves the body, wanders the Whatever until it attaches itself to another body, and comes back. This religious belief doesn’t take a smart person to figure out. There are hordes of books and movies based on the idea that we are nothing but bits of information — from Matrix to Cyberchase — but I personally haven’t read or seen a story that takes it all the way into a theory as to why time does not exist and therefore eternity does. They’re probably out there. I don’t read much science fiction, myself. Or religion.
Look at the guy running around in Final Doom. If we take him far enough, he becomes aware of himself (“I think, therefore I am”) but is he aware that he is in a game? The question I haven’t nailed yet is this: Am I the space marine in the game or the kid playing the game? And how do you know if you won? Most kills? Most love? Longevity? I hope to hell the scoring is more subtle than Final Doom.
Here’s what might be possible, and, if it is possible, then by Hercule Poiret’s theorem, it is trruth: The goal of each game is for the society within it to progress to the point of creating the game itself, before we destroy our environment and make a bell go off somewhere, a screen go blank, and some kid with bad skin say, “Shit.” The he goes to bathroom, gets a Coke from the fridge and comes back to push the Replay button. If we create the Existence game where thousands and thousands of lives can be played out in a short time, some of them leading to the creation of their own Existence games, whoever is at the top of the heap can go on forever.
Should the folks from “This I Believe” ever give me the call, that’s what I’m going to tell them. I’ll call it Timianity.