The fire raged, all around me, even though I had taken care to avoid it all my life. I’d done all the right things and taken all the right precautions but, still, I was trapped.
The fire consumed me. As my flesh melted from the flames, I was powerless to stop the inferno. My life that was so full of promise as a young man and so full of accomplishment by my 40th birthday was taken from me. I had no notice of the impending disaster and no hand in causing it. I was essentially left as ashes.
However, I seemed to live on in spirit and soul. I’d always believed that I had a soul, at least ostensibly, yet I was a little surprised to find that it actually existed. I seem to have retained a mind, as well, although I’ve found it to be a bit of a different mind, perhaps the same but forever charred, I’m not sure. Or, perhaps my mind was destroyed along with my body and what I think of as my mind now is actually my soul.
For some time after the fire, my soul lingered among my ashes, thinking of all that was lost and wondering if the ashes could fertilize my old self. However, the fire wasn’t finished after the first episode. Two subsequent conflagrations occurred and seemed to finish the job of destroying who I once was.
But the soul does exist and it lives on! In fact, once freed from the body, the soul has the opportunity to witness life from a different perspective, free from the trappings that ordinarily weigh us down. In fact, the free perspective cannot be viewed while trapped in the body. Once liberated, however, the soul is free to visit many mountains and to see life from many points of view. None of this changes the reality of that which is seen but it does give a wonderful opportunity to view that reality in different ways.
Before I became ashes, I was rightly accused of being too introspective. It was as if I wanted to remove the eyes from my sockets so that I could examine them. Now, my soul seems to more often obtain that perspective without the pain involved in trying to achieve it. It’s as if I am dispassionate and empathetic to the human condition at the same time. And, sometimes I’m even able to be dispassionate and empathetic to even my own ashes.
As time has passed, my ashes seem to have scattered a bit and even decomposed to some extent. I no longer mourn for them as I once did. It now simply seems less important.
I do wonder, though, if some good may come of them. If we truly are dust and ashes, and if we truly return to that physical state, it seems rather a shame if that’s the end of the story.
Today, I encountered four young men, boys really. Their bodies were strong and growing. Their natures, while imperfect, revealed kind hearts. Their youth bristled with promise. I’ve encountered these young men virtually every day of their lives but a new thought occurred to me today. I may be mostly soul now but I think I do know what became of Daniel’s ashes. In fact, perhaps his body needed to burn in order to free his soul to guide the ashes into becoming better, stronger, more compassionate, though still imperfect. Dust to dust. Ashes to ashes. Soul to soul.
Copyright 2015 Daniel Blake