Sunday, June 04, 2006

All existential and stuff

Robin had a play date with a friend yesterday. I think it's actually the first one she's ever had, which doesn't seem right given that she's seven years old. She spends time with the kids in Yolanda's neighborhood, but this is actually the first time she's been invited to just go over to another kid's house without me or Julia and play. Or, wait. Maybe it's the second time. Anyway, that's not what we're here to talk about.

While she was there, the family apparently watched one of those pseudo-documentaries about ghosts. She came home very concerned because this was not a story about ghosts. It was the news, and it had just informed her that ghosts are real.

It soon became clear that "there's no such thing as a ghost that can hurt you" wasn't cutting it, and we were going to have to go into a little more detail.

She and I have already talked about the fact that different people have different ideas about God and spirits and, well, life, the universe and everything. I have explained my 42: that each person is a part of God and that the reason God has created these "pieces" is to experience it all, to be everything. To be good, to be bad, to be forgiving, to be vindictive, to have the entire range of human experience. That we choose different bodies, lives and circumstances at different times, experiencing it all and, eventually, returning to the perfection of the whole.

So last night we started with what ghosts are (or aren't). We talked about how some people believe that when a person's body dies, that's it and everything is gone. Other people, including myself, think that the body dies and the spirit does not. If there are ghosts, that's what one is. She brightened. "So a ghost is really just a soul?" Ah, progress.

I explained that, if a person someone loves has died, that person may see, feel, hear, or smell something that makes them feel like the person is near them, and that it's usually comforting, not scary because they feel like the person has come to check on them and see if they are okay.

I told her that every once in a while I have a dream about a college friend of mine who died, and that to me it's more than a dream - it's like he came for a visit, and it's nice.

Then we got to talk about Hollywood and how people who make television and news shows want them to be exciting and interesting. So they had this story: a family moved into a house and heard footsteps. That, in itself, wasn't terribly interesting. Their cameras couldn't even pick it up [side trip to the land of "lots of people see or hear things they think are ghosts but, to my knowledge, nobody in the whole world has ever managed to film or record one"] so when they told the story they added mysterious music and moving shadows and talked about it in intense voices. But really, the story is the same: a family heard footsteps.

We also went over some options for when she's at a friend's house and they want to watch a show that she doesn't feel comfortable with...hell, that still happens to me.

All in all, I think we did pretty well. Of course, she still didn't want to sleep alone and I eventually let her get into bed with Julia, who had fallen asleep within the first 5 minutes of the conversation. (Julia's contribution was that she knew about someone who had a ghost problem, but they put out poison so all the ghosts died.)

This morning Robin wanted to know if anyone she loved had died and, at this point, it's only been pets. But I did get to work in the fact that Tina (our geriatric dog) is very probably about ready to move on. Been meaning to mention that to them.

She also wanted to know what would happen if you locked a soul into a box or poured concrete all around it. Would it be able to get out? I asked if she could think of a way to lock "being sad" into a box and she conceded that she couldn't, and agreed that a soul couldn't be trapped that way either.


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