I saw a dead person today, I haven’t seen one before. I’ve been wondering when I’d seen my first for years now. Months ago someone told me about how they saw a mother and child who had been in a car accident, the child was dead. When I listened to this story I tried to imagine how I would feel. I knew that no matter how much I thought about it I couldn’t reach into the future and feel how it would really feel for me. I’ve heard that humans have the unique ability to pre-experience things, this is why we don’t have to make every mistake possible in order for us to know that it will probably be a mistake. We don’t need to add a pound of salt to our breakfast, or fall off a two story building in order to know these things would be unpleasant.
There’s just one problem with this for me: I don’t think it works. I can’t pre-experience things accurately. I don’t know how I will react ahead of time, I can guess for some things but with things that are really different I’m blind. When I saw this dead stranger burning in the Hindu ceremony It was sneakily odd but not intense. I had thought that maybe seeing a real life dead person would effect me more than I could guess. It didn’t, not with this stranger in this funeral I was no part of.
I think many people tend to have more faith than they should in their ability to predict the future. Many of us have had the experience of dreaming about some goal and then finding that reaching the goal was hollow. I thought that I could escape my depression by traveling, I thought adventure and new experiences would help me to be happy. The interesting thing is that I am happier now, but not because of the external things. Traveling was the right choice for me but not because traveling is any kind of cure. Actually one of the most helpful things traveling did for me was to give me an enormous amount of time alone, far away from anyone that knew me. I have had days where I didn’t leave my hotel room because I was too depressed to see a point in it. I was right about traveling despite being wrong.
I’ve been learning the simplest plan I’ve heard of, it doesn’t involve hardly any prediction. I will now do things that I want to do based on what makes me happy, when it stops making me happy then I do something else that makes me happy. When I say that I will do what I want I do not mean a childish version of this. I mean that I will take out the trash because I enjoy living in a clean house more than a dirty house even at some expense of energy. I think that the things that make me happy could be simple things like good food or wider things like supporting a friend or my community. What I want and what makes me happy will guide me to the best path in a spiraling upwards kind of way since I believe that what makes me happy will include more and more things that help others.
The idea is that a wrong path is not possible, a wrong path is hard, a wrong path is self evident. I think a wrong path is as senseless as burning my hand on the stove repeatedly. A right path is effortless, not to mean there is no work involved but this means that all the motivation needed is inherent in the path. To follow the path provides so much happiness and excitement that to not follow the path is the harder option. I don’t want to try to predict far into the future, I still have to guess but now it is far more okay for me to change direction. I think that as I go further forward I will know myself better and better. I will know my needs and desires so well that paths that align will be easily sorted.
As I looked down at the burning body I wondered if the bones would be left or if they too would be turned to white ash. I left before finding out. Somehow breathing in the thick smoke from the body of a stranger felt a little too intimate for me, who would have guessed?