I was cleaning the remains of Easter Porn from the melted sole of my Chuck Taylor the other day. Easter Porn was the name of the stick-horse belonging to my boy Joe Schultz. Was. See, my friends and I had decided upon first meeting EP that he had to die. Damned horse didn’t go easily, though. Numerous attempts on his life left him battered, scorched, and scarred…but it wasn’t until someone got the idea to douse Porny the Pony with gasoline and ignite him that he finally met his fate. (OR DID HE?!?) Anyway, whilst putting the flaming artificial horse carcass out with my foot, it decided that a good final act of vengeance would be to fuse itself to the sole of my shoe. Well played, stick horse!
Anyway, as I was doing this, my friend Ed showed up, Alpine menthol cigarette between his lips, and sat down cross-legged in my driveway. Ed was wearing his usual black long-sleeved sweatshirt, some jeans, and a pair of white athletic shoes, just as he had back in our college days.
“Problem?” he asked, smirkingly. I explained the whole horse situation, and he chuckled.
“I love seeing you dig holes, Watson, ’cause it’s so much fun to see you dig out again.”
I would normally be annoyed, but it’s hard to stay mad at a ghost for long. See, Ed lost his battle with MS back in 2005, but sometimes he comes by to chat, often when I need someone else to talk to or when I need a dose of reality. That last observation is interesting, because, you know…he ain’t really there.
I changed the subject.
“So, what’s the truth about life on the other side? How much of what we learned in church is bullshit?”
Ed took a drag of his smoke. He always smokes menthols because he knows I won’t bum one from him. Tricky cat, that one. He flicked the ash off with his index finger and paused.
“It’s all bullshit. And it’s all true.”
“Explain yourself, you spectral Jew.”
“Well, one thing I have learned is that you really can’t grasp it from your perspective. And by that I mean that since you are trapped in that skull of yours, you can’t really appreciate what it’s like to be free. It’s like trying to explain the concept of algebra to a cat. The cat knows you love it and feed it, scoop its litter box and so on, but at the end of the day, it just wants to lay down next to you and get hair all over everything. It gives a shit about sine, cosine, tangent…just doesn’t care and doesn’t understand. Won’t understand, even if it wanted to know. Which it doesn’t.”
I scraped a little more dead horse stuffing from my shoe.
“Okay, well give me the basics. I think I can grasp some of it, even if I don’t, you know…’get’ it.”
“Okay, the reason Western religions have been so successful is that they put God into bite-sized, human-relatable nuggets. Stories, events, moral parables, etc. We, or rather you, can handle that. Doesn’t matter if it’s one God or many, like the ancient Romans or Norse. You can identify with these supreme beings, because at the end of the day they look like you, talk like you, use language you can understand. Even if sometimes they talk down to you, like parents to their children.”
Ed paused for another drag. As he exhaled, he continued.
“These things’ll kill you, you know. Anyway. I’m not saying the idea of a consciousness or a supreme architect of the universe or whatever is totally wrong. I’m just saying that a lot of the smaller details are complete bullshit. There’s no ‘one’ way into heaven, and heaven ain’t like they describe it anyway.”
Now I was listening. Ed adjusted his sitting stance and went on.
“Now, the Eastern Religions have a better grasp of things. I think those little fuckers know their place in the universe a little better. Buddhism especially. See, it’s all connected. Everything. It’s like the goddam Force. Every single atom in the universe came from the same place, and it’s all still IN the same place. You perceive this great gulf of space and time, but that’s not it at all. You, me, the rice farmer in Laos? We’re all right here in the same place. Even better? So is your dead grandmother and Abraham Lincoln and Hitler. Time and space are the same thing, but we’re on this log, right? Floating along this river current. We pass a tree on the riverbank and it passes back behind us, passes away in an actual physical sense, until we can’t see it anymore. But it’s still there. That tree didn’t go anywhere.”
“Okay,” I responded. “But I know for a fact that I cannot reach out right now and touch Australia. It’s physically on the other side of the globe, Einstein.”
“So you say. Ever heard of the double-slit experiment?”
“Yeah. Copenhagen, right? They shot photons through these slits and saw how they reacted. And the scientists discovered that the photons reacted the way they expected when they were being obvserved and went batshit crazy when they weren’t observed.”
“That’s the basics of it, yeah. Einstein called it ‘spooky behaviour’ because there really isn’t any explanation for it. There’s no scientific reason for the laws of physics to change simply because the subjects are or are not being observed. That’s why we need some new laws. Quantum physics, man. Humanity is about to uncover some of this shit and it’s going to blow the lid off of the way people see the universe. Forever. More than understanding gravity or inertia…shit’s going to get real.”
“But how does that explain things like, well, no offense, the afterlife? If there even is such a thing.”
“Of course there’s an afterlife. You think this is all in your head, me talking with you?”
“Well, yeah. I mean, I have a healthy imagination and–”
“Don’t give yourself too much credit, blog-boy. Thoughts, matter, energy, souls…it’s all exactly the same. Those photons in that experiment behaved that way because they were expected to. Expected to by the observing scientists. In other words, those men and women shaped the outcome of probability by bending it to their will. The universe did what they told it to. Because, and here’s the kick in the nuts…they ARE the universe. Get it?”
By now my brain was hurting and I had ceased cleaning my shoe. Ed explained himself.
“There are another set of experiments where they generate two identical quarks, okay? And they separate them by some great distance. Well, when they heat one of them, the other gets hot. When they move one, the other moves. They shine light on one, the other is illuminated. This shit really happened, too. That’s what I’m saying: those two different particles of matter were created together and are still connected. They are essentially the same thing, in two different places. Just. Like. You. And. Me. That’s what I’m talking about. Everything shares that connection, but you living types ignore it. You come up with silly ways to explain it, things like deja vu or coincidence. Sometimes crackpots go further with remote-viewing theories, ESP, flying saucers and such. When you guys finally crack the language barrier, the scientific language barrier, you’re gonna see how simple it all is. You’re living in a million different universes right now, but only perceive one. And I think that’s what God had in mind with this whole heaven-and-earth analogy. He wants you to understand your universe so that you can expand your mind in a way that you understand that it’s actually ALL the universes! Heaven is just another plane of existence, and I guess so is hell: that’s why everyone’s ideas of hell are different. Because you bring that shit with you. Matter and energy cannot be created or destroyed. Just can’t. So, your mind, your soul, whatever you wanna call it, it just changes states when you ‘die.’ Whatever baggage you bring with you, well…that’s what you sort of become.”
I sat there trying to wrap my mind around all of this, and knowing at the same time that Ed was absolutely right. But I had one more question.
“So, you mentioned God. God exists?”
“Of course it does. God is literally in you. Haven’t you been paying a god-damned bit of attention to anything I’ve said? Humanity is God, and so is the Earth and the stars that make up Orion. And yet it’s so much more. That’s a whole ‘nother conversation, bub. But yes, it’s real and yes, like those scientists in Copenhagen, it is aware of you. Because it’s in you. Aw, fuck, I ain’t got time to get into that. You got me freewheeling and off-topic. Yes. Yes, there’s a God. And yes, God is love, jackass. I gotta go.”
I scraped the last bit of scarred pseudo-horse from my foot. I looked up, and Ed was gone. For now, anyway.
Editor’s note: Edward J. Shovers and myself had a combative relationship during our college years, primarily due to chasing the same women. But after working with him at a radio station after college, we better understood each other. The last time I saw Ed, his Multiple Sclerosis had gotten worse, and he was having trouble getting around. I knew that he wasn’t going to be in this world much longer. Then, in 2005 I received word that he’d passed away in Indianapolis. There is now a scholarship in his name for Communications students focusing on Advertising at our alma mater, the University of Southern Indiana. I hope you liked this, Ed. You Shakespearean-looking Jew, you!