I’m still stalking Steve Jobs through his sister, Mona Simpson. In her eulogy, she said that a string of “oh wows” were Steve’s last words in the nanosecond before he left this earth. This is what I need to find out: was Steve, ever the marketeer, just hyping his new gadget, I-eternity, or did he really see something fantastic and wanted to give us the heads up.
I hope it was the latter. If we could be assured that death is just the gateway to some fantastic super consciousness, we’d all settle down and not have the death heebie-jeebies. I'd like to believe all of the “bright light” reporters who have brushed up to death but then hopped back to the other side in the nick of time. I’ve never been a fan of bright light. I like a nice contemplative half-light but I know if someone came back from the brink and said, “I saw a nice contemplative half-light,” it wouldn’t have the same punch.
I try to find clues to the afterlife by examining the unexplainable in present life. Two things that are weird: dreams and imagination. Where do we go when we dream? Last night I dreamt that instead of putting a toddler to bed, I left her in a baby carrier strapped to the washing machine. The next morning I was concerned and went to have a look. It’s hard to take action in dreams. It took me a long time to look in on the baby. She was fine. I often have dreams about forgotten babies and see them as metaphors for my abandoned writing projects. Even if that were accurate, how would it help? Is the subconscious a cranky scold pointing out my deficiencies?
For those who explain dreaming as the residue of the day that has to be purged - I say: is this a creation glitch that God didn’t feel was worth a recall? Or is it a hint of our untapped capacity and we’re still too Neanderthal to deal with the breadth of our brain power?
Then there’s the idea that this huge amount of information is stored in our heads. You have the physical part: the brain and the amorphous part: thoughts. How exactly are they stored? Volumes and volumes: You can spell and do math. I can remember all the words to Chattanooga Choo Choo. “When you hear the whistle blowing eight to the bar, then you know that Tennessee is not very far. Shovel all the coal in, gotta keep it rollin’ woo woo Chattanooga there you are.” Do you keep what you know when you exit?
Then there’s the imagination. I think we’re at the horse and buggy stage of knowing what to do with our imagination. Even writers like J. K. Rowling and J. R. R. Tolkien who imagined entire other worlds just have a toe in the wonders and power of the imagination.
One final thing - where do we go when we are deep in thought and oblivious to our surroundings? In those instances, we are pure consciousness. Is that a clue to life after life? It's better not to know. It would muddle up everything.