The Immortality of the Soul: Light from the Abyss

Sam - Chicago, Illinois
Entered on June 10, 2007

The ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle once stated, “We must no more ask whether the

soul and body are one than ask whether the wax and the figure impressed on it are one.” This

phrase speaks to the idea that the intrigue which constitutes one’s soul is infinitely more

important than the body in which the soul is held. In my life, I have known an individual in my

family whom I have experienced solely through the most critical parts of his soul, and seldom

through his social personality. In knowing my grandfather and his struggles with chronic

dementia, I believe that one’s soul always shines through the physical impediments that have

blocked a person’s ability to communicate with society.

Throughout nearly my entire lifetime, my grandfather “suffered” (he was always happy)

through a mental deterioration disease that rendered him able to do nothing for himself besides

eat and sleep; essentially, the level of an infant. Despite the evaporation of his mind, even in his

worst years, my grandfather always gave those who spoke to him a sense of his sane life. In the

most subtle of ways, I would see my grandfather’s soul appear clear-as-day out of an abyss of

senseless expressions. For instance, whenever I needed laughter to brighten my day, my

grandfather somehow always knew when the right moments were to laugh in a conversation,

even though he couldn’t perform actions as simple as brushing his teeth. Additionally, it was

fascinating for me to look over my shoulder and find my grandfather enwrapped in complicated

prayers committed to memory during the High Holidays. Finally, there was yet another profound

instance of my grandfather delivering his soul to the world despite the ineptitude of his mind and

body. At the funeral of his brother, who died this past year, I witnessed as my grandfather

somehow knew to cry at the right moments, and thus blend in with the rest of the mourners.

Due to instances such as these, I often think about the complexities of life, and how

someone whose brain is nearly nonfunctional can express so much in spiritual ways. Given my

grandfather as a shining example, I realize now that expression in its most heartfelt forms

exceeds all boundaries set by disease or disability. I believe that not being able to perform even

the most fundamental, daily activities that most people take for granted have no impact on what

comes from one’s essence. In the time after my grandfather’s death, I have cherished his soul as a

personal guide to help me appreciate the souls of others as well as my own.