If I remember my D-list disney films. All dogs go to heaven.
Of course, if I remember my hardline agnosticism, the concept of anything happening after the death of anything is slightly less proveable than the possibility of anything happening anywhere, and therefore considered unlikely enough to not be worth thinking about.
Which leaves us with a problem. I have to write 500 words (well, 435) about something that I fundamentally believe is at best impossible to comprehend, and actually, just useless to discuss.
This isn’t the first time.
There’s the grim response, of course, which isn’t that grim, it’s just functionally the truest answer we can manage.
They go wherever they are buried, or where their ashes are scattered. They rejoin the matrices of matter that they’ve always been part of. They sink into the ground and rot and get eaten and supply energy to the bottom of a big chain of consumption that might end up giving us a flower or a potato or some such.
It kind of depends where you bury them.
I believe in planting fruit trees on the dearly beloved. Try to get something back.
That sounds less romantic than I intended. I blame the early hour.
I refuse to believe in an afterlife that creates some kind of artificial justice. Although, I acknowledge that it is possible. I actually consider it fairly cheap to think of the next life being somewhere the good and bad get sorted out and meted out punishment. I think it’s a pretty cruddy motivation to do good, because it is built on the wrong things.
I suspect those with faith feel differently. And faith may even be a useful thing. It’s certainly not as if my abject cynicism has brought me the happiest and easiest life in the world. Maybe it’s possible to open myself up to something more supportive and warm.
But it would always feel like a lie.
I’m predisposed to disbelief, because young drugged experimentation almost crumpled up my whole brain. Believing in anything has only ever got me into trouble. Looping whirlwinds of explanation and pattern. A world that made too much sense and craved evangelism. Lies wrapped in nonsense, and thrown like a brick through my eyes.
I rebuilt my brain with some security mechanisms, not least an unwillingness to believe in anything specific, and to face a functional view of reality. What I see is all I’ve got to play with. It can’t be trusted, but it’s all I can really use.
So I try my best.
And all through this, I try to keep hold of something spiritual that I can ground in reality. I try to hold on to the metaphors and spirits of all the ideas, theological or not. With these I can learn about the real world. I can understand ways of looking, and I can aspire to be better.
The poodle may be rotting in the ground, but we’ve still learnt something.
That was a way of living.
Illustration by Emma.