I think that humans do not have a natural predilection to willingly observe religion. In fact, it seems most unnatural to me to believe in something as esoteric as an elusive God, mostly because humans, by nature, crave the tangible. Anything intangible is cause for controversy (i.e. love, wealth, justice, liberty, freedom, politics). It seems to me that parental guidance greatly influences an individual’s interest in religion. I, either fortunately or unfortunately, was raised by a previously Catholic mother and a Baptist father. I don’t know if you’re aware of this, but together these super powers join forces to create… complete and utter apathy. We’re the family that attends church strictly as required, including (and most certainly limited to) Easter, Christmas Eve, and Mother’s Day. My knowledge of religion extends no further than the understanding that one is never to use the Lord’s name in vain and that should I tell a lie, God may strike me down with lightning. However, while I may not have an appropriate amount of knowledge to discern whether God does or does not exist, and certainly cannot outline or enumerate the beliefs in the “religion” of my choice, I have formed my own opinions regarding religious appeals such as the “afterlife.”
I believe in reincarnation. I can say I believe in reincarnation courtesy of my mother. You see, my family is what you might consider a slightly neurotic, canine-obsessed, the-dog-has-a-place-at-the-dinner-table kind of family. While you may not see the correlation, I guarantee it is a crucial one. As a child, my mom would always offhandedly comment that “When I die, I want to be reincarnated as a dog.” To me, that is fact. There has never been another reality. When I would admire the comfortable and leisurely lifestyle that my dog Ernie led, it just made so much sense to me that it must certainly be a reward for the trials and tribulations endured in a past life. As I grew older, I never questioned that reincarnation existed until one day I realized that I often referred to Heaven. How could there be both eternal earthly life as well as a quintessential utopia? And so, while others my age questioned the morality of premarital sex, I pondered the principles of an ideal “afterlife.” While I desperately tried to conform to the typically Christian ideal of Heaven, I just couldn’t seem to veer away from my thoughts of perpetual earthly delights. After all, the thought of an “old soul” had always been my primary way of justifying maturity, intuition, and common sense.
Luckily, for my sanity’s sake, I am a reasonable person and understand that should there be a judgment day of sorts, not everyone will have assumed their fate correctly. And because this is the case, what matters is the here and now. What gets me through the day is believing that I will not cease to exist in body, mind, or spirit. It’s a principle of faith – in anything.
And so it was born, my solitary belief in my yet-to-be-determined faith. Although I am sad to say that Ernie has since passed, you should have no doubt that I am sure to search for him everywhere.