Wednesday, June 18, 2008


About Existence, Self, etc.

In one of my imaginary conversations with myself this morning, myself stated that "existing, even if only for a short lifetime, is better than not existing at all." I thought about that and I wondered, how could you compare existing with not existing? In order to assert that one is better than the other, one would have to be able to make a comparison. But if you don't exist, you certainly can not make a comparison of anything with anything else. I finally decided that myself had asserted a statement intended only to make me feel good about living and not one that deserved serious logical thought or philosophical inquiry.

The thought leads to the existential question, why do I exist? I think about my father in his young days, homesteading in the State of Washington and courting Elizabeth. His cousin Claude also courted Elizabeth. She chose Claude and my father later moved back to Michigan and married Bessie, my mother. What if he had married Elizabeth? Where would I be? Would I have been the son of Harry and Elizabeth or the son of Bessie and some other man? Probably I wouldn't have existed at all.

OR, here's another strange idea: Perhaps I would have existed eventually somewhere with a different set of parents, somewhere else. Perhaps a member of another species, perhaps somewhere else in the universe. Perhaps I was destined to exist, one way or another. Of course this idea is completely unscientific and utterly unprovable. It's an idea that might come out of a religious belief. For example, Buddhists believe in reincarnation, either as punishment for bad deeds or as a merciful second (or third, fourth, fifth, etc.) attempt to achieve nirvana during a lifetime.

I miss my wife. When she was living, she said that if she went first, she would wait for me. I don't know whether that is possible, even in a world of spirits. The memory resides in the brain cells, not in the "self" or "spirit" or "soul" that we are said to possess. The soul leaves the body behind, along with all the characteristics of the body, including the memory. After I die, my soul will no longer identify itself as Albert J. Saur. How will my soul and my wife's soul recognize each other? Will we meet in some future life, after we are reincarnated? I can not imagine anything that would guarantee such a meeting. The thought makes me doubly sad. I not only miss my wife, but I have lost her forever.

I hope not. Hope is all I have, along with memories of our life together.


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