What do you think happens to us after we die?
Dear Just Curious,
Thank-you for your simple and direct question. To answer it, let me introduce to you My Filthy Bum Harvey, who at the moment is sleeping in the weeds beneath a tree at the edge of a park. I've known this destitute hobo for years and years, and so he's not going to mind me tippie-toeing up to him and using him to make a few points.
First, I'm going to lift the flaps of his lips in order to expose his teeth. In the light of my new laser-pointer which I've bought especially for this demonstration, I'm now seeing all kinds of mossy greenish stuff on the few front teeth that remain in his head, as well as obvious signs of advanced decay. As I pass my new laser-pointer to the ear canal area, I see scabs and flakes resting in what looks to be a dark bed of congealed oils. Moving down to the neck, I'm now with my fingers prying apart several of the creases in his fat, revealing a pasty mixture of sweat and oil and grime.
Harvey has awakened as I pressed on his neck, and I've said to him, It's ok, it's just me, and he's nodded and gone back to sleep. And so now I'm opening my laptop computer into which I've plugged a special photo-microscope device which I'm holding close to the rim of Harvey's half-closed left eye. On the computer screen I'm now seeing tiny microscopic creatures slurping from the trough of water at the edge of Harvey's eyelids.
As I move the photo-microscope through his whiskers and hair, more of the same: boulders of dirt, oils, scales, tiny crawling things. If I had time to do some time-lapse photography of the shaft of a whisker at skin level through the microscope, you'd see Stuff oozing continuously through a hole as if squeezed like toothpaste from a subcutaneous tube.
Let's turn now to the Tree beneath which Harvey has passed out. Harvey and the Tree are alike in many ways. For example, with the photo-microscope, we can see on the Tree lots of the same kind of crap that was on Harvey -- moisture, decay, debris, little scurrying living things.
Also, Harvey and the Tree both have Life. Having Life means that the thing with Life in it requires fuel of some type to keep Life going or else Life leaves town and the thing changes dramatically, fast. The getting of fuel and the using of fuel requires all kinds of fancy tubing, both large and small, through which to acquire the fuel and to deliver the fuel and to get rid of the waste. And so both Harvey and the Tree are made up of a dizzying network of systems that sustain the complications of Life.
Sadly, these complications present problems. When something goes wrong with the tubing, Harvey and the Tree are in trouble. That is, neither Harvey nor the Tree can do very much about the mind-numbing intricacies that keep them Living. Even to themselves the interior workings of Harvey and the Tree are a mystery.
Therefore, for both Harvey and for the Tree, a tube or two or three will wear out and that'll be that. The time will come when Life must leave them. And so, when Harvey and the Tree say good-bye to Life, what are they saying good-bye to exactly?
That is, what is Life?
If you ask me, Life is what we call God. And God is just another word for I-Don't-Know-What-The-Fuck's-Going-On-So-I'll-Just-Make-Something-Up.
In the meantime, after Harvey and the Tree die, the husks of both of them will continue to exist. Let's watch these now Lifeless Husks as they remain where they are at the edge of the park so we can see what happens to them over time.
Well, whadya know? It took a while, but they both just kind of disappeared. Where'd they go??
Where they went is, back into the earth. They both became small bits of Stuff, getting smaller and smaller all the time. And then moved by the wind, moved by water, absorbed by this, gobbled up by that.
Returned to the Chaos.
And so, Just Curious, there you have it. That's what I think happens when you die. Your Stuff breaks down into smaller and smaller smaller pieces and then gets redistributed by the movements of our little earth-ball.
You may ask, How small will the pieces of me become?
And I blurt out, all cocky, INFINITESSIMALLY SMALL! AS SMALL AS THINGS CAN BE!!
And how small can things be? I have conned you into asking so that I can proclaim this:
IS THERE ANYTHING THAT CANNOT BE DIVIDED? THAT CANNOT BE CLEAVED INTO TWO?
This I have asked so that you'll appear stumped, at which time I can announce triumphantly:
YES THERE IS! THERE IS ONE AND ONLY ONE THING THAT CANNOT BE CLEAVED INTO TWO! ONE THING ONLY! AND DO YOU KNOW WHAT THAT ONE THING IS??
No, sadly I do not Big Waldo, I've scripted you to say. So that I can trumpet this:
That's right! God! That's how small you shall become! As teensy weensy as God! You thought God was big? No no no! Think again! The fucker's a shrimp! As tiny as things get! The tiniest, eensyiest weensiest thing there is that can team up with other Stuff and eventually turn into You! Me! Harvey! Trees! Rocks! Little things slurping from the water in our eyes!
One day you too, Just Curious, shall become other Stuff! See ya there! Enjoy!