Lately my thoughts have been focused more on where we exist in physical space than on how we exist as random bundles of energy. Mostly because my move across the country is getting closer – just over six weeks, for anyone who’s counting – and almost everything is starting to get framed in the context of where I’ll be and what I’ll be doing then. I have three set answers when people ask me why I’m moving: sometimes I use the safe “to be closer to family”, sometimes I venture into “because I can”, but usually I say it’s because I feel like that’s where I’m supposed to be. That’s really closest to the truth.
But even as the pile of boxes around me grows higher, they stay empty. This is the first home that I’ll really have a hard time leaving; it seems inevitable to me that some part of me will stay behind. I’ve learned more about life in the short time we’ve lived here than anywhere else, and I wonder how much of that will pass on to the next person who lives here – the next person who watches a winter sunrise through the kitchen window or sits on the front steps soaking in the last rays of the summer sun.
It’s a cool idea to think that our existence isn’t bound by the space in which we find ourselves, that we can leave bits and pieces of ourselves scattered wherever we’ve been, and that we can connect with those bits and pieces of other people to experience life in some dimension we can’t even really define. At least, I think it’s a cool idea. In the end, though, this odd collection of skin and bone, hydrogen and carbon, calcium, oxygen and whatever else is in there – it has to actually be somewhere. One week ago I discovered the incredible feeling of hanging in the air, floating gently at the will of the wind, but even the slightly surreal experience of my newfound favourite sport of paragliding reinforced pretty solidly the fact that sooner or later you come back down to earth. The loss of two people recently – one of whom I knew as a colleague, and one who I met only briefly – both too young and vital to die, reminds me that these bodies we’re in are just temporary homes, and frail ones at that. They are pretty amazing, as far as homes go, but temporary, and sooner or later we have to leave them behind.
Where is this all going? That’s what I’ve been asking myself lately as these random ideas keep circling through my brain, refusing to organize themselves into anything like a coherent thought. I think this is as close as I can get: our impact is bigger than the sum of our parts. Even if we are accidents of evolution (and I’m not saying we are or we aren’t), we are far more than the container that happens to hold us at any one time. Don’t you think?