Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Maybe the soul looks like snow

When someone old dies, the question gets asked: what does the soul/spirit look like? This is positing that you believe there is a soul/spirit, something more than the breath in the body.

If someone 92 dies, what does their soul look like apart from the body? 92? 70? 30? The time in their life when they were the happiest? Or is it that essence that connects all these ages? That look in the eyes that you can trace from baby pictures on through old age. Or is it a color or smell unique to a soul?

Hard to wrap your brain around a soul. The concept gets credence even in science, per the theory that energy isn't created or destroyed, it is just transferred and transformed. Certainly there is an energy in someone alive that is absent when they are dead.

If you connect that concept to Jung's collective unconscious--that we can tap back into history, that we are connected to it, the soul will swim through your head, buoyant and sticky like a magnetic is sticky, pulling the mind along.

These are heady conceits, appetizers for uncertainty.

I don't know what the soul looks like. Maybe it looks like snow, which is why I get light-hearted when it snows. And maybe Dylan Thomas is also describing the soul when he writes:

"Our snow was not only shaken from whitewash buckets down the sky, it came shawling out of the ground and swam and drifted out of the arms and hands and bodies of the trees; snow grew overnight on the roofs of the houses like a pure and grandfather moss, minutely white-ivied the walls and settled on the postman, opening the gate like a dumb, numb thunderstorm of white, torn Christmas cards."

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