Love. Months ago, after reading some stuff by some great, yet unorthodox thinkers, I’ve decided that Love is the greatest thing there is (Yes, I’m aware Paul beat me to it in Corinthians 13:13 centuries ago, but that’s not the point).
Recently, I woke up to the idea as to what direction I wanted to take my art, which is purely based on Love. I Love painting, I Love beauty, I Love the people I choose to paint, I hope that I will inspire Love in those who look at my art…
This morning, though, I realized one of the reasons Love is so powerful is because of how painful it can be.
I didn’t sleep very well last night. This morning, I woke up feeling… upset. I’m not sure how else to explain it. I wasn’t happy, but I couldn’t understand why I wasn’t happy. This was more than the normal waking up groggy. I had very vivid dreams that I couldn’t remember, so I know it had something to do with it. Other than that. I was at a loss. I was also worried because when my mornings aren’t good, the rest of my day isn’t the best either.
Even so, I was determined to have a good day! It was a Saturday after all, and I suffered through a pretty long and crappy work week. I just made my first Etsy sale, my dearest friend bought a $5 print from me of one of my most cherished paintings, of which I will never sell the original (a still life bouquet of purple daisies my now-husband gave me when I returned home from Italy. See? Another example of art painted with Love).
This morning, I went out to put the print in the mailbox. I grabbed the mail that was already in there. As I went inside, I looked down at the mail to see if there was anything for me or my husband… and saw the reason why my waking up wasn’t so good.
The name “Bruce Gilinsky.”
And just like those terrible amnesia movies where images of the guy’s memories all start flooding back, I remembered the dream I had last night.
Bruce Gilinsky was my grandfather. He died Spring of 2016. Last night, I had the most vivid dream that he was back. My grandma, my parents, my brothers and sisters, my husband… Grandpa… and I were all in the upstairs living room of my grandparents’ house. My whole family was happy. He looked a couple decades younger than when I last saw him. He didn’t have as many wrinkles, and he was happy to be alive and see us all again. Now, because I was somewhat aware of events in the dream and out of it, I didn’t realize I was dreaming, but I did remember that Grandpa died, I asked how this happened.
Turns out he was brought back through cloning technology. He was cloned, then his age was accelerated. He still had all of his memories, even of his death. I knew this was very wrong, and that what took place was unethical for so many reasons.
But, here’s the thing, I didn’t care.
He was back. That was all that mattered.
I can’t help but think if that was why I woke up so perturbed, and the dream was blocked from my memory if not momentarily. There was some guilt about not caring that Grandpa was still dead, but replaced with a clone with all his memories. It reminded me how much I missed him. I missed him so much that any solution to see him, talk to him, be there with him… would be good enough for me.
Now, dreams could just be dreams and not mean anything, but in the past couple of years, I’ve become very interested in Carl Jung and his expansion on Freud’s dream theories. Whenever I’ve had dreams that I could remember, I try to think about what they could mean, or what my brain is trying to work out and what lesson I could take away, or what I could watch out for.
I think on some level, there’s some warnings or speculations about the role of delusions.
After remembering my dream, I fervently hoped that Grandpa was in Heaven, because as this subconscious desperation of mine was to see him again, that would be the only way I could see him again. This then instilled in me a need to truly believe that there is a Heaven.
After thinking about this some more, I was thinking about a very common Atheistic argument that the reason why people believe in things like ghosts and Heaven are only a defense mechanism and that superstitious people could not handle the idea that they’ll never see their loved ones again, so they have to believe in these things so that they can just move on with their lives. Ironically, I believe Freud said that, and here I am looking to a student of his to make sense of these things.
I believe the solution Freud would say to dealing with this grief is just to accept the cold, hard truth that you’ll never see them again and move on.
Well, that doesn’t work for me. There’s no evidence that there is a Heaven, sure, but on the flip side, there’s no evidence that there isn’t either. So at the end of the day, I think this depends on what works best for you and your life. What kind of life you want to have and what beliefs will help you achieve that.
So, maybe Heaven’s a delusion. But… I don’t care. In my dream, Heaven didn’t exist, but the cloning technology did. Here, the cloning technology doesn’t exist, but Heaven does. It doesn’t matter.
So, here’s what I think would work best for me. If I am to believe that there is a Heaven, then I will continue to pray that Grandpa’s soul made it here, that also means I need to get there too, which to me, would require a life that strongly involves believing everyone, no matter how terrible, is still worthy of love, patience, and compassion.
BUT! If there is no Heaven, and when Grandpa died, that was it, and that’s what will happen to me when I expire, then… I will have died living a life that hopefully made other peoples’ lives at least a little better. More importantly, any parts of my brain that control things like disappointment will cease to function. So, it’s not like I can be disappointed that there was no Heaven after all and that my life with a strong dedication to Love all amounted to yet another meaningless existence. Right? Right.
I already decided months ago that I wanted to focus my life more focused on doing small things to make the world at least a little better than I left it rather than focus on all the many horrible things about the world.
As sad as it was, and as much as this dream made me realize how much I missed someone I loved so dearly, I’m glad I had it. It instilled a somewhat selfish, yet effective motivation to live the life I want to lead.
Here’s my takeaway: I think it’s best to live your life as honestly as you can, and that science is great for helping us understanding the material world, but for certain things science can’t empirically prove, like the meaning of life, whether or not anything matters, whether there’s life after death… whether art has any significance… if living as if such things do matter helps you to become a less frustrated, kinder, more helpful person to making the world around you a little better, then I guess it’s worth it.
That being said, I want to make it clear that I’m not saying you join a cult, or join a religion where a core tenant (or any tenant) is to treat others badly. What I’m trying to say is, if you think about it, things like Love, Kindness, Loyalty, and Mercy cannot be scientifically and empirically measured, but living as if things are real make us better people… In fact, I’ll let Death from Discworld explain it for you better than I ever could (skip to 1:30):
The worst thing that would happen is you died living a better, more meaningful life and won’t live to regret it.
So, yes. Love can be painful, but that’s a good thing. Despite what you may think of “fantasies” people use to get through the day, I think we can all agree that Love reminds us and instills in us something almost as powerful: Meaning… and what it means to be Human.