Is There Life After ...?
How would your life change if you realized that there is no death?
The middle finger on my right hand was broken between the last and middle joints. It happened when I was in the Navy, at age 19. I was standing on the fantail of the destroyer escort, the U.S.S. Hammerberg, all by myself. We were docked at our home port of Newport, Rhode Island, and doing normal ship maintenance. Someone had roped off part of the fantail to paint the deck. The rope was attached to the deck hatch, but the brace for the hatch wasn't in place. I unintentionally leaned on the rope, then felt it give, then noticed the hatch start to fall. In a panic I imagined someone coming up the ladder with the hatch coming down on their head. I raced for the hatch and tried to catch it. It was too heavy. My fingers on both hands got caught between the hatch and the combing. The hatch bounced and I quickly withdrew my hands. The fingers on both hands hurt real bad. I decided no one had been coming up the ladder - or they were back down on the bottom. I decided not to raise the hatch and inspected my fingers instead.
There was a curious new joint in the middle finger of my right hand. Instead of following the curvature of the other joints, it went in the opposite direction. I now had a v-shaped appearance between the last two joints. Placing my left thumb under the bend and one finger on either side on the top, I gently eased the finger back into a straight line. Yep. It was broken. And it hurt less than the joints on all the other fingers, which were now a little swollen. What I deduced was that the hatch separated all the joints but broke this one bone.
I went down to Sick Bay gently playing with my broken finger, watching the new 'reverse' joint in action, more fascinated than scared. When I got to Sick Bay, I playfully put my finger up to the corpsman's face, straightened it and let it fall again a couple of times, and said, "I think my finger is broken." He panicked. I chuckled to myself as I saw him dart one way and then another in the small Sick Bay as though looking for something to do. He told me to sit down and wait. I obliged, and continued to play with my new joint, which now was starting to pulse a little.
The next thing I remembered was that I was somewhere in a grey void. No discernable light could be seen anywhere, and there was no distance to anything. No other thing in sight. But I heard a voice. "Why can't he stay?" I heard a woman's voice ask.
I looked around for the source of the voice. Around? Foolish imagery. There was no 'around'. Out there? Close? Far? Where?
"Because it's not his time," I heard a man's voice say. Then I saw them. Five heads. No bodies. All in a row about 'fifty' feet away. Distance was only relative, because all I can recall was that they were some 'short' distance away. Maybe sixteen paces, if I had any 'legs' to walk with. Although I didn't really care or pay much attention; I was only a 'head' out in 'space' myself. The woman was on the far right. She had long, dark brown hair and a beautiful face. She might have been in her twenties or thirties. Definitely a little older than me. The look on her face was near pleading. Next was a man, also a little older than me. The look on his face was like jealousy. Odd, I thought, that he wouldn't want me here with them. Was he concerned I might get all the woman's attention? That was something I could certainly look forward to, I thought. Then a white-haired gentleman with wise-looking wrinkles but yet with a young attitude. Lastly, two more young men who looked for all the world like caretakers in a sanitarium. Waiting silently.
"He can't stay here," I saw the old man say. It was his voice I heard earlier. "He's got to go back."
Go back? Back where? It seemed that the woman and old man were engaged in a conversation about me, but all I could think about was where I could be going and where I came from. It seemed all I had to do to be with those people was 'project' or 'wish' myself there. But this 'back' business bothered me to the point of distraction. Then I heard another voice, faint and seemingly far away and 'behind' me. It mumbled at first. Two short words. I listened intently in case it would come again. And again it came. "Stand up!" it said. Another man's voice. Still faint and far away but this time quite clear. "Stand UP!" he shouted again, much clearer this time.
Stand up? I asked myself. How? I have no legs, no feet? I'm just a head. No body! "Stand up!" This time it sounded like it was right behind me. All sense of the other 'heads' had gone from my attention now. It was just me and this new strange man's 'voice'. I tried to look around to see him, but everything had gone almost black around me. All that seemed left to do was to obey the 'voice'. Okay. What would it be like to stand up, I asked myself. What would it feel like to have legs? Where would they be? What would I be standing on? In a desparate attempt of some strange kind of imagination I suddenly discovered that I had legs. I could feel mass and circulation through muscles, strong bones and a floor under my 'feet'. Well, I could stand up after all. Gleefully I tried, but found that something was pushing against the back of my head and forcing me down. Now that was surely odd.
"Stand up!" I heard him again. This time there seemed to be some kind of emergency in his voice, almost a bit frightened. Okay. I'll show this voice I can stand up despite what's holding me down. And I pushed between the 'floor' and whatever it was holding me down, as though I was Altas and this 'thing' on my neck was the world.
Right then the darkness began swirling away. Light was clearly visible on the other side of my closed eyelids. There was 'distance' between my head and the floor and that distance was increasing as I found myself standing straight up. I opened my eyes to see the Sick Bay and noticed that the corpsman was the one shouting at me to stand up while all the time holding his hand against my neck pushing me down. I put it all together in an instant. I had fainted while sitting in the chair.
When things had settled down again and the corpsman was satisfied that I was in no danger of fainting again I asked why he did what he did.
"I have been taught that people who faint from shock can die while in shock. That technique has worked to bring them back from their fainting spell."
Did I 'die'? Had I gone to the 'other' side? Is that why the old man said I had to go 'back', back to this world? I think so. And if I didn't actually 'die', I was one decision away from death. In my state it would have been easy for me to stay in that nothingness. It was very peaceful in a quiet sort of way and there was no concern of being a body. I think it rather strange, though, that I had emotions and desires, a sense of wanting to belong with others. That part still doesn't seem to agree with the widely held concept that on the 'other' side there is no pain. Well, I didn't feel physical pain, and maybe the sense of wanting to be with others wasn't painful as in being despondent, but there was a yearning nevertheless.
You might also enjoy reading about a special memory I have, that of choosing my mother before I was born. Read about it here.