Commentary and Philosophy Non-Fiction posted April 10, 2022

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Grow Where Planted

A Take on Everlasting Life

by Annmuma

As far back as I can remember, I have rarely slept all night, but, conversely to most people, I don’t mind.   

I was about sixteen when my Uncle Frank and Aunt Pearl visited our home in Tioga.  It was a big deal; they lived in California and it was the only time they came to our home in Louisiana.  I mention that to explain why I gave any credence, at sixteen, to an elderly person’s advice.  One morning, I was complaining at breakfast about losing sleep.

“I woke up this morning at three o’clock and now I’m so tired.  I don’t know why I wake up!”

Aunt Pearl smiled at my teenage whine.  “I don’t know why either, but you are very lucky.”

“Well, it doesn’t feel lucky!  I have a World History test this morning and I just want to go sleep.”
“Oh.  That sounds like fun.  What are you studying?”  Aunt Pearl perked up, as if she were really interested in this conversation.
“Hundred Years War.  Still think it’s interesting?”  I laughed.
“Oh yes, I do.  When did that happen?  I don’t remember studying that.  Of course, I had to quit school in the seventh grade to help at home and your Uncle Frank and I got married.  That’s neither here nor there.  Tell me, Olevia, when was that war?”
“1400’s I think. France and England.”
“Now there is a subject you could have used during your awake time.  Think of it as a play you are watching and build the scenes and the characters.  If it’s boring, you’ll go to sleep pretty fast and, if it’s not, you will have a better understanding of the subject.”
I laughed.  “I guess so, Aunt Pearl.  I gotta go. My school bus will be here soon.”
From that point on, I began to think of my nighttime waking periods as blessings, a time completely alone and with absolutely nothing else on the agenda except what I wanted to think about it.  My subjects are random and typically put me back to sleep quickly!  Sometimes a word just pops into my mind, maybe ‘endeavor’ and then I start to imagine sentences using the word or maybe personal endeavors or guess the origin based on spelling or sound or whatever.  You get the picture and probably understand why I go back to sleep quickly.  The whole practice is just another take on counting sheep.
When I wake in the middle of the night now – once that necessary trip down the hall is taken -- I crawl back into bed to think about something.   Lately, life size questions have popped up. 

Remember, Admiral James Stockdale?  It just so happened I was spending the night with my mother-in-law in the hospital when his 1992 vice-presidential debate was aired.  The camera focused on Admiral Stockdale.
“Admiral, we appreciate your being here tonight.  The first five minutes belong to you.”
The admiral looked uncomfortable but smiled bravely.  “Thank you.”  He looked directly into the camera and spoke.  “Who am I? Why am I here?”  That’s the only part of the debate I remember and
that's the picture that popped up clearly in my mind a couple of nights ago! 

Those two questions have been knocking on my door in the middle of the night.  In keeping with my practice to approach my ‘night subject’ from all angles, more hours are being spent awake than normal; I don't mind.  I can sleep any time and, likely, much better as I come to terms with this rather moral and life affirming theme.   

Life has been proven as never ending; even atheists agree life is forever, if only from an energy standpoint.  Leaves fall in the autumn, return to the soil in winter, trees bloom, provide springtime food and create summer’s shade.  When the tree’s lifespan in that capacity is over, the wood returns to the soil to feed insects, rodents and the next tree. 
Life is not accidental on any level.  Every human is here for a purpose.  In my personal belief system, our choices, made at pre-determined forks in our lives’ roads, provide answers to both questions, Who and Why.  Life after death fascinates me.  I know it exists; I’ve personally experienced contact with persons on the other side.  To me, human death is only a crossover into the next phase of life and a path of continued learning. 

I once had a conversation with my brother about life after death.  His response was, “Olevia, the question is not will we live again, but do we want to?"    I think he is right in that we do not have a choice about the living forever, but we do have choice in how we live the forever  -- and not just on the other side, but on this side as well.
 The Rembrandts, the Shakespeares, the Marco Polos, the Henry Fords, all those who made mankind-changing impacts on our world will never be forgotten. The Phoenician-developed alphabet, and its Greek modifications, guaranteed the current residents of our planet a record of those responsible for both the best and worst consequences of our ancestors' actions.  

What about the "you-and-me’s" in today’s world?  Some may make medical discoveries to match Salk's polio vaccine, or be brokers of world peace -though temporary- as Churchill.  Some authors’ written works will be the latest addition to the greatest literary efforts ever penned. Someone could make the decision to use the first nuclear weapon, much as Truman dropped the first atom bomb.  Another could give in to their worst instincts and decide to purify a race, as Hitler did. The famous and the notorious of our generation and our time will remain with coming generations because their actions are larger than life.
The rest of us go to work, raise our families, and live our lives in near anonymity. Within no more than three generations of our crossing to the Other Side, no one will speak our names unless they happen to be interested in genealogy or wander by a family cemetery plot.  Our names will rarely, if ever, be spoken by even our great, great, grandchildren, much less by the man-on-the-street.  

Yet, unbeknownst to those who follow us, our collective and individual lives continue as an invisible influence in this physical world.  Somebody’s life will be directed one way or another because of something we did, or did not do, during our short journey here.  As John Donne stated in 1632, No man is an island unto himself.  We send out ripples – not huge waves, like a Mother Teresa, but more like a mother.

This truth became crystal clear to me one day over lunch with my youngest daughter.

"Mom, I read your Christmas story on Fanstory.  It sorta made me sad, and it sorta made me happy."

"What do you mean?"

"I don't know for sure. I just know that I felt as if I were there in the story when you were a little girl. I felt like I knew your mother, and it seemed as if I met you as a teenager. I liked that part, but then I read the part where you said you might see my baby from afar. That made your mother's death more real because somehow she became you."

Denise looked so serious that I laughed.  "Well, I'm not planning on making that far trip too soon."

"It's not funny, Mom. Dad didn't plan on it either."

"You never know, Dee.  I do know that no one leaves this world as long as someone remembers them."


We changed the subject, but I have continued to think about the transient quality of my life here. This physical journey is brief, and that brevity intensifies the responsibility.  In my theory, each of us individually are sons and daughters of a living God and, as such, we each have all the powers of our Father.   The ocean as an analogy makes sense to me: An ocean can erode a beach or float a ship.  A single drop of ocean water has all the same components but lacks the power of reuniting with its source.  Our power comes by recognizing our soul’s hunger to become one with its Maker and that only happens when we work together to spread kindness, love, tolerance, and respect.   
A life once begun never ends, a word spoken cannot be retracted, and love given cannot be taken away.  It may change, wither, or increase, but if it ever existed, its effect cannot die.  We are all intertwined with a shared duty to care for one another and our world. 

Through caring and acting on the truth of the Golden Rule ... or not ... we live forever on this side and the other side. 




Just thinking about what seems to be missing in too much of our world today. And thinking that the only place where most of us can truly make a difference is where we live. That 'Grow Where You are Planted' is important.
Pays one point and 2 member cents.

Artwork by helvi2 at

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