News and Reflections

I’ve developed some new health problems of late. One is hellacious gas that makes me swell so big that it’s obvious, another is pain in my groin, and the third is pain in my left jaw. I had a CT-scan last week to see what the groin pain is about; I’m taking two drugs for the gas (they’re not helping much); and Kirk (my internist) suggested a fatter tooth guard (I’ve slept with a tooth guard for thirty years) for the jaw pain.

I’ve also gotten to where I go out in the backyard in my underwear. It’s usually for only a moment to take out the trash or empty the compost, but sometimes it’s for a little longer. The people in the house behind me live higher up, and they have a home office in their windowed back porch, so they can clearly see me. I just figure that, hell, I’m as covered-up as people would be at the beach if the beach in Oregon wasn’t so cold.

Another thing I do is to walk around naked indoors with the blinds raised. Peggy doesn’t like this, so she’ll come along and close them. It
’s not that I’m an exhibitionist, it’s that I don’t care. The thought that I live in a society that watches movies with gratuitous nudity (nearly always on the part of young females), but objects to neighbors in their underwear or naked in their own houses is something I’m unwilling to honor.
Peggy took a trip to the coast with two friends last week, and one of them came back with food poisoning. The diarrhea got so bad that her husband had to go to the store and buy her some diapers. I laughed to think that he never dreamed he would have to do something like that when they were young and he mistook her for a goddess. I also knew that he was mad about her going on the trip (because of the expense), so I hoped he was kind to her while she was sick.

I’m better than most at observing people closely enough to know what they need. A common example would be that if Peggy and I are in the kitchen, and she washes her hands, I’ll hand her a towel, so she won’t have to get one off the hanger at the end of the counter. Peggy doesn’t watch me like I watch her, and it sometimes hurts my feelings that she doesn’t know I need help when it seems so obvious. I think to myself, how can she not know? The reason, of course, is that she isn’t paying attention, but how is it that I pay attention, and she doesn’t? I know she loves me, but I also know that she’s often oblivious to my needs, and I can’t put the two together.

The Lane County Fair is in progress, and I live across the street from the fairgrounds. I have a double driveway, and people need a place to park, so I sometimes flag them down and tell them to park in my driveway. Yesterday, about 3:00 in the afternoon, I did this in my pajamas because I saw someone who was trying to fit his car into too small a space and who was old enough that I wanted to spare him and his wife a long walk.

Other kinds of charity I engage in are that I give money to street musicians as long as they’re not so bad that they hurt my ears, but I’ve yet to give a penny to a panhandler. Peggy has strong feelings against giving money to beggars, so she was surprised when I started giving money to street musicians. “They’re at least trying to earn it,” I said, “and it is only a dollar.” I also help people when I happen upon someone who needs help, and I give money to various charities—Public Broadcasting, Sierra Club, Freedom from Religion Foundation, American Civil Liberties Union, and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, all but the first of which are considered dangerous by conservatives. I only give a little more than what will pay for membership, but I tell myself that I will make up for it when I’m dead. They’ll need the money as much then as they do now.

A month ago, Peggy and I were visiting Mt. Angel Monastery when we met a traveling homeless man with a husky. He wanted the monks to let him camp in their woods, but they said no, but that if he would go back into town, the nuns at the convent might have a place for him. It being unusually hot that day, Peggy and I did something that was extraordinary for us, we took him and the dog into town to the convent and left him in the care of a gruff but hopefully caring nun. He could tell that we weren’t completely happy about helping him, so he said that he would be okay with walking, but I said that it wasn’t him we were helping, it was his dog because his dog was suffering in the heat. Indeed, if he hadn’t had that husky, he would have been on his own.

I find in the music of Taizé a feeling deeper than words and a place where doctrine is irrelevant. Tears roll down my cheeks. I find it hard to even walk, and I’m in a daze when I try. It’s as if the key has been found to some lock within myself, yet I’m not a believer, and even Taizé is powerless to make me a believer. Still, Taizé represents to me what religion should be, that is a source of peace, beauty, and inclusion. I trust that the people who wrote it and are performing it are reaching out their arms to me rather than consigning me to hell. If all Christians were open-hearted this way, non-Christians might even respect them
Many atheists regard religion as a weakness at best and a mental illness at worst, and this leads them to reject religious art and music. For years, I was this way, and I still won’t purchase the “gospel” music that I grew up with, although I’m moved by some of it. My reason for avoiding it is that it contains too many statements about blood, belief, and heaven for me to relax into it. Also, I know that the people who I went to church with as a child would want to exclude me from enjoying it just as they exclude me from their churches, so I’m content to leave their music and their churches to them. 

I shared the video link with my Christian friend, Robert (Rhymes with Plague), and since the words of the first selection mean grant us peace, he asked who it was that I thought would grant me peace. I often feel that believers are trying to convince me that I’m not a real atheist. I wish they were right, but I’m as real as it gets regarding non-belief in the supernatural because I can’t look at the misery that pervades our world and see God in it. Still, when it comes to what is in my heart, I can’t completely let go of religion either because if it’s not true, then what’s the point? This world alone simply isn’t enough for me because it contains so much sorrow and because every life ends in death. Even the good I experience is like a dessert that I only get to taste before its taken away (I refer mostly to my relationship with Peggy). 

P.S. If you’re open to being consumed by this music, you need to lie down and be still, but I have no thought that my atheist readers will be open to it. I just think they’ll feel sorry for me because I love it.

Peggy is also an atheist, and last week when we were hiking atop Indian Ridge and enjoying the view of mountains from Hood to Thielsen (about 250 miles), I asked her if she had rather live with the sadness of knowing that we will be soon separated by death, or would she prefer to believe in something that she now considers a myth. She said she had rather believe. I’ve always thought that the desire to believe was indicative of weakness, but issues of strength versus weakness become less important as one’s need (if not one’s desperation) increases. I can hardly condemn a person for believing that which I too would believe if I could.

Peggy is in awe of the fact that I can stop-up a toilet instantly because, if not for the toilet paper, she couldn’t stop one up in a week. She doesn’t exactly envy me my talent, but this doesn’t prevent me from grunting, pointing, and curling my biceps if I drop a major bomb while she’s around. In June, we spent the night at Oregon Garden, and I stopped their toilet up just as we were leaving our room. There was no plunger, and I was too embarrassed to leave the problem to them, so I unstopped it with my hand.

One of our schnauzers would eat used dental floss, and it would  make his shit come out like a rosary. This would absolutely scare the dickens out of him, so Peggy would have to take the end of the floss and pull. There are some jobs that I am happy to leave to her, especially in public where I try to look the other way and pretend I’m alone.

If I wrote more personal posts like this, more people would like my blog. It’s not that I don’t know how to please people, but that I write about what occurs to me and in the way that it occurs to me. I lost two long-term face-to-face friends (and, therefore, a surrogate granddaughter) recently because of a post (, and that was very hard for me and even harder for Peggy, but I couldn’t apologize because here is where I am who I am, and people can either like it or not. Maybe this makes me sound hard, but my goal is to present to my readers the best gift that I can give, by which I mean the gift of myself at my core. If they reject that, they’re rejecting me, and there is really nothing I can do but to let them go.


Myrna R. said...

I don't agree with everything you write, but I am certain it's sincere and I appreciate that. I enjoy your personal, non-controversial posts, of course, but I also like reading what you feel and think. I consider you one of the most open hearted people on the blogosphere. Your heart and your mind are fully exposed. Maybe, that goes along with not caring about nakedness at home. Ha.
I am so sorry you lost friends. But glad that you are secure in who you are, enough to simply let them go.
Take care, keep writing!

angela said...

I love reading your blog. I'm thinking the walking around nude thing may be a male peculiarity. Because my hubby does it too. As well as walking outside in his underwear lol

Stephen Hayes said...

This was one of your more personal posts, and I'll never look at dental floss in the same way again. You might have mentioned it before, but I didn't know your wife wad also an atheist. I'm glad you two have each other. I seldom walk around naked or treat my neighbors to the sight of me in my underwiear, but unlike you it's because I care so much. Take care.

Elephant's Child said...

The gift of yourself is huge. I am sad that you lost people because of your honesty, but to keep them would cost your integrity. Somedays integrity feels like the only thing we can keep. Expensive, but (mostly) worth the price.
I think I would rather live with the sadness of knowing that my time, and those of the people I love is finite, than wish upon a star, which is probably part of the reason religion holds no pull for me. Never having been exposed to it also plays a part.

Elephant's Child said...

How remiss of me. I should also add that I hope (so much) that you get relief from your health issues. Soon.

rhymeswithplague said...

All that stuff about toilets and hands and dogs and dental floss and a rosary is definitely Too Much Information. Funny as all get out but definitely Too Much Information...

kylie said...

I'm so very sorry you lost the grand daughter. I would have thought a friendship more valuable than to withdraw from your life over a blog post.

I also go into the backyard in my underwear, usually to get some item of clothing off the line. Our yard can be seen (just a teensy bit) from the street but I always tell myself that nobody is watching.


PhilipH said...

Firstly I'm desperately sorry to learn of yet more painful health troubles. The jaw pain is worrying. Sometimes this can be a symptom of a cardio problem but not, I guess, in your case.

I liked the music you shared. I found it almost hypnotic, soporific and calming. Never heard of this before, so thanks for that dear chap.

All I can say is please improve healthwise and perhaps reduce your struggle to understand the occult religious inquisition you endure.

Charles Gramlich said...

sorry for your new health issues. As for being naked around the house, I sometimes go out on the back deck naked. But we live way out in the country with woods on three sides.

Snowbrush said...

“I liked the music you shared.”

I’m so glad, thank you.

“I seldom walk around naked or treat my neighbors to the sight of me in my underwiear, but unlike you it's because I care so much.”

There’s caring in a good way, there’s caring in a bad way, and there's caring in a neutral way, and I don’t know which you mean. If my backyard neighbors had children or were having a party, I would keep a low profile, but they’re my age, have looked down into my yard and house for 25-years, and I just got to where I was feeling silly for putting on clothes everytime I ran out into the backyard in order to avoid offending them when I had no reason to think they would even be offended. Maybe I should abandon the boxers for a cod-piece or a loincloth, and if they object, I can accuse them of engaging in hate speech against my Native American heritage. This being Eugene, that should shut them up.

“I sometimes go out on the back deck naked.”

Do you ever walk along the edge of the deck until you spy a fireant nest, and then piss on it? I used to do that in Mississippi. If I peed on the same nest several times a day for about a week they would move their nest by about a foot or two, and I would have to start over. BTW, I wouldn’t advise peeing on fireant nests while standing in the yard because even if you have good range, they can still start up your legs before you’re done peeing. While we were in Mississippi, a woman had a stroke, fell in a fireant nest, and was killed.

Mim said...

Sometimes I may not agree with you Snow, but you are never boring and I think that you write things that other people think about but wouldn't write. Too bad that people dropped out of your life due to your openness - no one foreced them to read what your blog!

Sue in Italia/In the Land Of Cancer said...

I once almost lost a friend to a blog post of mine. I had been feeling sorry for myself because this person avoided eye contact with me while I was undergoing cancer treatment. Lesson learned: I don't talk about my friends in my posts except in a very general matter and I never use their names.

I do enjoy your thoughtful posts, even ones that I don't quite agree with.

As for offending your neighbors with glimpses of nudity, maybe they haven't even noticed.

And as for Peggy, she's not a mind reader. If you want a certain action, you have to ask for it.

All Consuming said...

Bear with - I'll be back to comment properly later on. It is a great post, and sometimes it's good for us as bloggers to share some personal bits. X

Snowbrush said...

“I think that you write things that other people think about but wouldn't write.”

I’m sure that’s true. It’s also true that, unless we’re mentally ill, our most personal thoughts and feelings are going to be the most personal thoughts and feelings of almost everyone around us.

“Too bad that people dropped out of your life due to your openness - no one foreced them to read what your blog!”

It was only one of the two people who had most of the problem with me, and she did say that she started feeling angry with me months and months previously when I wasn’t even writing about anything whatsoever that had to do with her. Still, she kept reading (at least occasionally) and piling up more and more anger. When I reflected upon the kinds of things that had made her angry, they were nearly all things that politically correct people would abjure. It wasn’t, I believe, a personality clash that drove her away but rather the fact that I don’t fit her image of what a good person is supposed to think and say. By the standards of political correctness, she is completely right, but to the extent that PC is able to force “niceness,” it also forces superficiality, and this makes for a regrettably bland world. The world needs curmudgeons, people who don’t go along, who don’t fit in, who make people’s jaws drop by saying outrageous things, who refuse to have their thinking limited by some formula whether that formula is imposed by the church, the government, or PC.

“Lesson learned: I don't talk about my friends in my posts except in a very general matter and I never use their names.”

To me, it’s all about motive. For instance, I would never write about someone in order to lash out at them (In my comments’ section, I’m freer in what I’ll say than in the posts themselves, but I still feel the need for limits, so I deleted two of my comments—about my lost friends—to this very post because I was mad when I wrote them, and I later thought that I went over the line). I try to (1) write with an open-heart, (2) focus upon the feelings and thoughts that come up in a relationship rather than about the other people in the relationship, and (3) avoid writing thoughts and feelings that the other person doesn’t already know I have. This doesn’t mean that I regularly write about the people in my life because I no longer even see other people that often, and I wouldn’t write about them anyway because they don’t tend to bring up thoughts that I care to write about. Books, trips, and just sitting around and thinking, are all a far greater source of inspiration than friends. (cont.)

Snowbrush said...

I’m almost the only blogger I know who writes about his spouse. I don’t know if most bloggers are under orders not to, or if their spouses are so boring that there’s nothing to write about, or what the reason, but it would be easy to imagine that most of the blogs I read are written by single people. If Peggy were the kind of person who said that no way ever could I write about her, we would have a serious problem because I don’t want to write superficial posts. There’s nothing wrong with not examining one’s life in depth as I’m prone to do, but examining life in depth is what I’m about, and I couldn’t do it if I were unable to write about the most important person in my life. Of course, I’m darned careful to never malign Peggy, and I should even think that anyone who reads this blog much would surely realize that I have enormous love and respect for her. There has only been one post that she asked me not to put online (she often reads my posts before they appear), and it was about Islam. She said she would be afraid that we might be physically harmed if the “wrong” people read that post, so I readily agreed to her request. I hate the idea that so many Moslems are willing to use the threat of terror to silence their critics, and by not posting my thoughts, I felt bad that I was giving in to that threat, but when it comes right down to it, I’m not going to give Peggy reason to be fearful in her own home, and I could hardly assure her that her fears were groundless.

“As for offending your neighbors with glimpses of nudity, maybe they haven't even noticed.”

I agree. I’ve been in their back porch office and was surprised by now much I could see down my way, but still, it’s not like I’m going to pains to expose myself, and I’m not nude that much. It’s just that sometimes when I’m cooking, or have come indoors on a hot day, or had a shower, I’m hot, so I peel my clothes off for a bit.

All Consuming said...

"I know she loves me, but I also know that she’s often oblivious to my needs, and I can’t put the two together." - she just has a different brain to you. It works differently.

The shorts/pyjamas/naked in the house thing - great! It's all about how comfortable you are with yourself that kind of thing. I don't see you getting arrested for waving your knob about whilst singing "Wankee Doodle Dandy" just yet, so all should be well.

I give to street musicians too, and I'd give a lift to a hitchhiker here if there wasn't such a high rate of muggings and the like for female drivers doing so. It's being kind, and it does ourselves good to be so, as much as it might the person receiving the dollar or so.

I listened to the music just as you said, and I do understand what you mean. My Pa sang in the Catherdral choir for a while, despite having given up on religion, and the music was can be very beautiful. And peaceful yes *smiles*.

Good news about the giant poos blocking the toilet, I'll sleep well tonight.

Lardy sometimes dates cotton off the floor, or worse, long hair, and then craps out something akin to the worst string of flags in the world.

Love ya nekkid pooing man. X

Snowbrush said...

“she just has a different brain to you. It works differently.”

But why--is it a case of nature or nurture? I know that for most of our marriage, I’ve been the domestic support person and Peggy has been the career person. I also know that I’m more aware of other people’s needs than she, and that I have been this way for all of our decades together and, before that, for all of my life. However, I’m not just more aware of other people’s needs; I’m more aware of any potential threat they might pose. Maybe this too is part of my protectiveness, a protectiveness that I was either born with or acquired as a small child, but that I focused upon her.

“I'd give a lift to a hitchhiker here if there wasn't such a high rate of muggings”

I’ve both hitch-hiked and ridden freight trains over much of this country, but that was long ago (Peggy jumped a train with me once). Now, I never pick up hitch-hikers, and it was indeed fear that would have hindered us from letting this man in our car, but neither of us could let his dog suffer. After all, the man had a choice and a more efficiently bodily cooling system, but his dog was stuck with his master's decision to take him to a place that was having record heat.

“Love ya nekkid pooing man.”

I hope you’re not just saying that because this post was so sexy, what with all its mentions of nudity and toiletry. In other words, I hope it's my mind you love and not just how hot I am.

I love you, too.

Snowbrush said...

One more thought about Peggy being different. It does seem to me that there is a difference between knowing something in my mind and accepting it in my heart. In my heart is the belief that, "Love means such and such, and that anything apart from this doesn't equal love." I KNOW that it's not fair to lay the burden of my projection onto Peggy, but I can think of no way to avoid it completely because just as she is who she is, I am who I am. There's also another element at work here, namely that I'm a male, and it's hard for me to ask for help. I know that this makes no sense to a woman, but although we males are certainly weaker than women in a lot of ways, we had rather have splinters driven under our toenails than to admit that we need help because our self-worth is so tied to our belief that we are strong and self-reliant. This is how we evolved to be, and it's surely a good thing in some circumstances, but it's also hard for us to lay it aside when other circumstances make us look rather stupid for being that way. The fact that I'm as much or more the nurturer in our relationship as Peggy is doesn't in the least make me feel less manly, both for the good that this entails and for the bad.

possum said...

I still think a religious past life keeps speaking to you. It may also be why you are an atheist in this one!
Thanks for introducing me to this music. I am listening to it as I write this. I, too, seem to really enjoy a lot of Xian music, in spite of being a Buddhist. I once said that religious music (and not that gospel stuff) was the only good thing to come out Christianity. I don't think I have changed my mind.
Have you heard Sanctus by the Libera Choir?

Snowbrush said...

“I still think a religious past life keeps speaking to you.”

Past “this life” maybe, as my whole growing up years were spent in church three times a week and then some. I don’t know why Buddhists believe in reincarnation, only that a lot of them don’t, that Buddhism is very different from country to country and sect to sect, and that, so far as I know, the Buddha didn’t teach reincarnation, saying that this life was enough to be concerned about, and that he had no knowledge of any others. I think of Buddhism as like Christianity in that what Jesus stood for has been so changed by the churches as to be unrecognizable. Peggy has the Liberia piece,and it is lovely—thank you. Your thoughts are always welcome.

Sparkling Red said...

I appreciate you being so real in your writing. May as well be transparent, or if people like "you", who are they really liking?

My ex had a cat that loved to eat curling ribbon. One Christmas season he got into the closed-off living room and had himself a little snack. Later he had beautiful, golden, curling poop-ribbon hanging out from his butt. It was pretty funny, but I felt sorry for him because he kept thinking that something was chasing him. The faster he ran away, the faster that poop-ribbon ran after him! Eventually my ex managed to get it off him. Ah, poor Shadow. He was such a lovely, dumb cat. I miss his big, furry head.

rhymeswithplague said...

Re "our belief that we are strong and self-reliant"...

Who is this "we" of whom you speak? I am not now nor have I ever been strong and/or self-reliant. What I mostly am is weak and greatly dependent on the help of others. In the days of the great migration westward when an indomitable pioneer spirit was necessary to survive, I would probably have stayed back in Philadelphia. I suppose this makes me a bit of a wuss in the eyes of most "manly men" but it simply cannot be helped. I yam what yam and that's all that I yam. I do not like to fish, hunt, attend NASCAR events, get in drunken brawls, curse at people, give one-finger salutes from my car, or be purposely flatulent in public. Even so, I fathered three children and have not been divorced even once. I am no pantywaist, simply a quiet fellow who prefers peace and quiet and to live peacefully with my neighbors.

(It just occurred to me that this would make an excellent rant by Brother Theodore.)

Snowbrush said...

“May as well be transparent, or if people like "you", who are they really liking?”

I think that when transparency is combined with the desire to be liked, the result (intentional or not) is a transparency that is selective and manipulative, which is how I used to behave with women. When I became aware that one of the problems that many women had with men was that they were unable—or unwilling—to be vulnerable, show their soft side, cry when touched by beautiful music or scenery, be tender with puppies, kittens, and small children, listen more than they talked, and so forth, I set about to do these things, and so it was that my deepest self—my realness, as it were—became a ploy to get someone into bed. My realness on this blog is also selective, but rather than coming from a desire to be liked, it is based upon what I’m interested in when I write, whether it’s from an intimate and personal place or a political, religious, or philosophical place. This means that I’m not manipulative. One of the things that never ceases to surprise me is what my readers react to and how strongly they react to it. For instance, I mentioned losing two face-to-face friends recently. I was astounded to learn that one of the things I wrote about that really pissed-off the woman was that I said I disliked tattoos. She doesn’t have a tattoo and I had never even heard her talk about tattoos, yet she was really angry that I’m so “bigoted” as to dislike tattoos (although she was wrong inasmuch as it’s not tattoos per se that I dislike, but the faddishness of getting a tattoo).

“I felt sorry for him because he kept thinking that something was chasing him.”

That’s exactly how it was with our schnauzer, and it was both funny and sad to watch him run a few steps, and then look behind to see that his shit was still chasing him. After doing this a few times, he would finally stand there in despair.

“I am not now nor have I ever been strong and/or self-reliant.”

At our age, weakness is expected. For instance, I was offended when clerks first started offering to call someone to take heavy things to my car for me, but now I gladly consent, and so it is that my former pride is dropping away. Tell me, though, when you were a boy and a young man, were you treated differently for being as you were? I knew kids who behaved as you describe yourself, and they were not unpopular, but this was partly because they posed no threat to anyone even to the point of being unwilling—and even unable—to defend themselves if attacked. Yet, I should think that if you ever ran up against serious bullies, it would have gone hard for you. I sometimes got into fights that I didn’t want to get into simply because I was afraid I would become a target for bullies if I didn’t fight. I’m sure you heard of fathers saying, “I’ll whip my kid if I ever hear of him starting a fight, but I’ll whip him harder if he ever runs from one.” My father was himself a brawler well into adulthood, so he was somewhat of this mindset, and although he never whipped me once for anything, he would have been ashamed of me had I not been a fighter, not that he spent enough time with me to know one way or the other.

Snowbrush said...

“I do not like to fish, hunt, attend NASCAR events, get in drunken brawls, curse at people, give one-finger salutes from my car, or be purposely flatulent in public.”

You left out being a sports’ fan, which is something that I know you are, at least to some extent, and something that I never was (even though I live in the heart of University of Oregon country, I really don’t care who wins any given competition, and rarely even know when there’s a game or where that game is to be held). I don’t do any of the things on your list either, but I have, in the past, cursed people and flipped other men the bird. I also did many other things that I considered brave at the time, but which now seem more on the order of reckless. Like many men, perhaps, I’ve often been more motivated by being afraid of fear than of taking risks.

“In the days of the great migration westward when an indomitable pioneer spirit was necessary to survive, I would probably have stayed back in Philadelphia.”

I would have done all that I could to stay home, but I should think that a lot of those people acted out of desperation. Eugene was the end of the line for the Oregon Trail (Portland was the official end, but families spread out all over the Willamette Valley to its terminus at Eugene where the Valley ends), and I think it likely that they were largely people who didn’t honor their past, felt no ties to the land they left, and had no great commitment to their loved ones who stayed behind. I think it was a dreadful thing they did, and can only understand it in terms of desperation. Of course, I followed them here over a century later, but I can’t say that leaving the land of my forebears—meaning the South—didn’t cost me more than I imagined.

“ I am no pantywaist, simply a quiet fellow who prefers peace and quiet and to live peacefully with my neighbors.”

I can’t put “no pantywaist” together with being “weak and greatly dependent,” the latter suggesting to me a lack of strength, dexterity, and competence, and I also took the general tone of your comment to imply a determination to avoid conflict at almost any cost. I’ve fathered no children, but then I never in any way imagined that impregnating women had the least bearing on manliness. I have been married to the same woman, it is true, but that was due to her loyalty more than to my good behavior, but even had it been otherwise, I don’t relate being faithful in marriage to manliness. In fact, I don’t relate any virtue to manliness. because I don’t see virtue as being gender specific. Testosterone is what makes a man a man, and it is a damnable hormone that has caused enormous and unnecessary suffering.

Ginny said...

Like Peggy, I would rather believe. I did as a child and it was comforting thinking that I would see my loved ones again. I'm a bit envious of those who do believe there's something beyond death.