Life! What is it? We all know what it is, we wouldn’t be alive without it. But look in the dictionary, and what do you get? The best English dictionary in the world offers us this as its number 1 definition: The condition that distinguishes animals and plants from inorganic matter, including the capacity for growth, […]

ife! What is it? We all know what it is, we wouldn’t be alive without it. But look in the dictionary, and what do you get? The best English dictionary in the world offers us this as its number 1 definition: The condition that distinguishes animals and plants from inorganic matter, including the capacity for growth, reproduction, functional activity, and continuous change preceding death. It’s number 3 definition is: The period of time  between birth and death… While I agree with these definitions, I do not find them particularly useful. Descriptive, but not definitive. They describe life, but they do not get down to the root of what life is. Do they give you a better understanding of what life actually is? They don’t do enough for me, which I guess is why I have spent most of the period of my life from my birth till now trying to gain a better understanding of what life really is. Why? Because I have a need to know…

I started this journey so long ago I can’t really remember when it began. But I do remember where I was at the time, at least as far as my understanding was concerned. I was brought up a United Protestant Christian, which is a distinctly Canadian church combining Anglican, Presbyterian, and Methodist churches as well as a few lesser known denominations. The first definition of life I was ever taught to believe was that life was a gift from god. This worked till I went to school, and discovered others claimed god for their own. The Catholics, for one, claimed my god, but he told them different things than he told those who taught me. That was step one, I guess. If the same god gave life to others not like us, to whom else might he have spoken even different words.  Next came Jewish people. One of my better friends growing up was Jewish, and the same god gave them life too. Later I came to learn that those groups, Protestants, Catholics, and Jews were further divided into different branches, and different sects of those branches.  Even later I was able to add Mohammadens (whom we now call Muslims) and their branches and sects to my list. I was in confusion city.

What you might ask, do all these different peoples have to do with the definition of life? Well, at the time, it was just that I believed life was a gift from god, so why did he give so many people so many different gifts? We were all people, that much was easy to see. But yet some people were red, some were white, some were different tones of brown, some even had a funny greenish olive tone. But yet we all had life, the very same kind of life, human life.

And then came two other observations that led me even further afield. For these two events I ask your understanding, I was only a kid, and didn’t know any better. My best friend (not the Jewish boy, but a Ukrainian Catholic) and I used to catch bugs, keep them in bottles for awhile, and let them go later, if they were still alive. Those deaths that did occur did not affect us, death happens, though we did not know why–we did not know we had killed them, and no one told us we had. But then one day we decided to douse a spider with lighter fluid and set it aflame, just to see what happened.  The flare-up was beautiful,  as we thought it might be. All fire has a cetain beauty. But we were not ready for what happened next. The spider began to scream. And I recognized that scream, it was the scream of pain, and I had screamed that way many times in my short life. I felt that spider’s pain. (Okay, it probably wsn’t a scream, though it might have been. Probably it was air squealing out of a tiny hole in the spider’s body. But none of that can be proven either way. I heard a scream, and I can hear it to this day.)

If you have read any of my works before, you may already know I was physically abused as  a child. Some things that were done to me made me cry. Some things made me shout. And still others made me scream bloody murder. And that is the scream I heard from that spider before I stomped on it to end that scream. I can only hope that was the last time I intentionally hurt a bug, any bug, for as long as I have lived. I wish I could say that as a definite fact, but I cannot. Still, I can hope…

The second event was visually worse, and I can guarantee I have not purposefully killed another animal since. My father took me fishing around the age of ten, and where he took me we could find no worms, which was what he told me were normal bait. Instead of worms, he had me catch two small frogs, which were plentiful in the area. He took one from me, and told me to put the second one on my fishing hook. I asked him how, and he said it didn’t matter how, a fish would eat it soon enough. I put the hook though it’s stomach. There was no scream, though the frog jerked. Then it looked at me, with bewildered eyes. What had I done to it, and why. Then my father spoke up, “Don’t just ook at it, throw it in the water. So I did. The little froggie tried to swim away, but all it did  was succeed in tearing its  own stomach apart. It tried swimming away again, and it got further than before, but its  guts were still attached to my hook. They got longer and longer, and still the frog tried to escape. Meanwhile, I was getting scared. I knew by then I was hurting that frog, why else would it try so hard to get away. I brought it back to shore, and killed it with a rock. Then I threw my rod and line in the lake, and sat down and cried. “It’s just a damned frog,” my father said, as he swung his fist at me. “Now get back there and catch a fish. That’s your supper tonight.” I refused. “I’m not killing anything else,” I said adamantly. “Fine!” he said, “Then you aren’t getting anything to eat for the rest of the day.” And I didn’t. And I was glad I didn’t.ý

Author: rawgod

A man with a lot of strange experiences in my life. Haven't traveled that much per se, but have lived in a lot of different areas. English is the only language I have mastered, and the older I get, the more of it lose. Seniorhood gives me more time to self-reflect, but since time seems to go much faster, it feels like I don't have as much time for living as my younger selves did. I believe in spiritual atheism and responsible anarchy. These do not have to be oxymorons. Imagination is an incredible tool.

5 thoughts on “LIFE–AS I BELIEVE IT TO BE (part 1)”

  1. Oh wow, that’s six heavy duty posts that just came into my inbox. It’ll be a while before I can find the reasonable time to go through these. Saved to my “hold” folder for the time being.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Actually, S’T, they were a mistake, not meant to be published. Written and rejected, even. They were test runs as I tried to get my mind around our discussion of life. Not sure what I did to get them published, but I certainly did something. I hope I at least proofread them before mentally throwing them in the virtual wastebasket. Funny thing is, they don’t go into the trashcan, just sit around and wait for me to screw up and give then a renewal in life. Hope they make sense…

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow! Seems so easy for people to be cruel sometimes… if only we could bottle your awareness of your role in it, and your ability to learn and change.

    I saw a movie once called “Powder” where a hunter killed a deer and a man transferred the pain from the animal to the man up to the moment it died. A very strong movie with a real sense of man’s cruelty.

    An incredible movie!


      1. About my awareness of my role in life and my ability to lesrn and change, I “believe” we are all more than capable, we just don’t feel the need to do it. If our lives are relatively good, and happy, there is no incentive to change. If people tell us to “trust in gods” and we believe them, still no reason to change. Some people have a need to change, but have no idea how, or are too scared to try. I was a lucky one. Everything came together for me. If it can happen for me, it can happen for anyone. And in my philosophy, it will. The only question is when?


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