Island Soul

I don’t know who it was. It may have been me, it could have been someone else. Whoever it was, the undertaking was extraordinary: transplanting my soul into a small island in the St. John River between Van Buren, Maine and Saint Leonard, New Brunswick. Actually, it wasn’t an island. Not exactly. It was an aggregation of silt that accumulated against a piling beneath Bridge Street at precisely the boundary between the United States and Canada.

Now, you may ask how my soul could possibly have found itself assigned to a mass of mixed silt and clay beneath a bridge at an international boundary. I asked myself the same question. It was odd in more ways than you might imagine. First, until the transplantation, I had never been even remotely close to the location. I’d been only to the lower fringes of Maine and had never ventured into New Brunswick. But all that may be immaterial. The question, of course, is this: what is a soul and how do I know mine was transplanted into an international island claimed by no nation?

I’ve never believed in the concept of a soul. A soul, to me, has always been an imaginary expression of an imaginary connection to an imaginary being. In other words, an artificial understanding of a woo-woo linkage to a hallucinogenic woo-woo thing. But I changed my mind. I’ve come to believe that a soul is the mental manifestation of the synthesis of one’s intellectual and emotional biochemical/bioelectrical responses to both internal and external stimuli. That may clarify matters ever so slightly, but the explanation does not begin to explain how that mental manifestation found its way from my body, or my aura or whatever it is you’d like to call it, to a clump of bi-national dirt. And you’ll note that I said from the very start that I don’t know who did it. Nor do I understand how it was done. I know only that the transplant took place. When I say transplant, I mean my soul was removed from me and my proximity and relocated to the island in the St. John River. That is to say, my soul is no longer at my disposal, as it were. I’m soul-less. In spite of my almost life-long disbelief in the soul, and my subsequent non-religious epiphany about it, the fact that mine is no longer readily accessible causes me some anxiety.

I’ve considered talking to a psychologist or psychiatrist about my anxiety, but the prospect of explaining my rather uncommon belief about the nature of the soul deters me from that course of action. Not to mention the idea about the transplantation. It might be different if the transplantation involved another person. I might find it easier to tell a mental health professional that my soul found its way into another human being. But I’m afraid the concept of psychokinesis (I may be using the wrong term here, but I can’t for the life of me think of a better one) involving transition from an anthropomorphic entity to an island in a river might trigger an involuntary commitment. If that were to happen, I’m afraid how I might reaction, because absent a soul, I might be misjudged. Because, you know, other people seem to grab onto the concept of a soul and they think they can see into the souls of other people by looking into their eyes. What would happen if someone were to look in my eyes and see an infinite void where they think they should see my soul? I shudder to think about it. I might be considered inhuman and subject to carnivorous lust. See, I think cannibalism arises not from any inherent mental deviance but, instead, from the belief that animals that are perceived to be without souls are fair game. Cows, deer, chickens, pigs…all soul-less creatures in the eyes of many and, therefore, suitable for butchery and culinary treatment. And I’m worried that could happen to me.

If you’ve read this far, you will have determined either that: 1) the author is out of his mind or 2) the author’s imagination has gone off on a strange tangent. In fact, you are correct, regardless of which determination you reached.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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