The other day, I was thinking about Ate Belle and remembered that it has been almost four years since she died. I was deciding on when I was going to fold clothes when the memory of her in our house, calmly sifting through the freshly laundered shirts and sheets, came back to my head.
I really should’ve paid attention to how she did it. Then again, folding clothes is one of the chores which I absolutely don’t enjoy. Some of my friends, like Mela and Jessica, find it therapeutic; I find it dull and repetitive. I’d rather cook or do the groceries than be stuck folding clothes for what feels like an eternity.
I now wonder what was going on inside Ate Belle’s head as she did the chore every day. It’s fascinating, imagining her internal life, her wandering the nooks and crannies of her experiences that she kept hidden from everybody else. Why didn’t I ask much? But she didn’t really say much either too, only nodding her head at what we told her, perhaps amused that we (my brothers and I) had so much to say, as if our young lives were larger than what it actually were.
Recently, I’ve been reading about panpsychism, the idea that consciousness is present in all matter: that is, consciousness is a property of matter itself, for both living and non-living things–rocks, trees, insects, animals, people…everything. Some even say that the whole universe itself is conscious.
The idea is not new. Shintoism believes that all things are imbued by some sort of force called kami. Hinduism has Brahman, or the Ultimate Reality. The Greeks, like Thales of Miletus, have also explored the idea as well, the philosopher saying that there is a soul that “is interfused throughout the universe”.
The theory of course has its own share of detractors. For one, it does reek of religious mysticism, similar to how people say gods exist, but have no way of proving their existence. Panpsychism also opens a Pandora’s box, leading us to questions such as: what kind of subjective experiences do rocks and water (basically, inanimate objects) have?
Or are those questions even pointless to ask? Do we anthropomorphize our subjective experiences and believe that they are the only experiences worth having? Do we use our experiences as the benchmark and thus limit our perspective of other subjective experiences?
As I went to bed and fell asleep, I started dreaming about dying, and I thought about how I slowly started to unravel, like fabric that had started to fray and was now becoming threads of different colors again. In that dream, I didn’t feel exactly sad, or happy, or angry. There was a certain sense of calm to that experience, an acceptance to that loosening of my self, that return to my most essential parts.
When I woke up, I thought about Ate Belle again, at the end of her life, and wondered if that was how she felt as she died. It wasn’t exactly an end, but a return. She was coming back.
I don’t know how true it was. Perhaps I’ll never know. But I just wish that she found that peace. And maybe, in a way, if this unraveling were true, then perhaps we do live on, in everything–little parts of us now existing in everything.