As any artist knows, sometimes your creative well just runs dry...and although I'm on break and my brain should be full of ideas, I have really been struggling for topics probably because I sleep my life away. But yesterday I was talking with a dear friend about the movie "Seven Pounds", which I have not seen (I'm so behind the times, it's depressing how many flicks I haven't watched yet); he got this movie confused with "21 grams" (surprisingly, another one that I have not seen, joke intended). Long story short, our conversation lead to how the body at death loses approximately 3/4 of an ounce immediately, which is 21 grams, hence the name of the movie, which is attributed to the soul leaving the body. Of course, after hearing this, I was extremely intrigued; I'm not religious in the sense of the normal use of the word, but the idea of the soul has always fascinated me.
After I got home, I did a bit of research to find that a Dr. Duncan MacDougall of Massachusetts performed six experiments in 1907 on persons who had terminal illnesses such as tuberculosis and diabetes. Out of these six, only one showed significant weight loss at the time of death: .75 ounces immediately at the time of expiration. Although he replicated this experiment with fifteen canines, no weight loss occurred at the time of death.
A professor at Duke University also debated performing this experiment, but there is not enough backing financially or personally to help initiate his project.
Last night, after my friend and I discussed the 21 grams, we went to Panera to brainstorm ideas for the book I would like to write. Let me tell you, I love writing, but brainstorming is hard work. Being the coffee addict that I am, after I finished my first cup in two minutes, I went back for more (thank you Panera, for feeding my habit). After I filled my mug and I was walking back to the booth, I saw an older couple holding hands over their table in their booth, smiling and talking. And yes, as cliche as it might be, it reminded me of the phrase from Wedding Crashers that Owen Wilson uses on some chick: "True love is your soul's recognition of its counterpoint in another." (Gotta admit, had this not been used in a movie that is all about 'wam, bams, thank you ma'ams', I would have totally fallen for this, but anywaysssss...) As corny as it may sound, these people, had they been married even as late as their mid thirties, they had been married for at least 20+ years and were still very much in love (at least last night in Panera they were). I love couples like this; the kind of couples that look at each other in a room full of crowded people and only see each other.
For me, couples like that are proof that humans have souls; it's something in their eyes that is present when they look at each other, or when they speak about their significant other. The person listening, if listening intensely enough can hear their love, not through the content they are speaking, but something in the person's voice. I read a writing prompt the other day on Wisdomology.com which asked its reader, "What does it mean to you to allow another person to fully love you?"
I thought so long and hard about this question, I surely should have an answer by now. And yet, alas, I do not. Perhaps that is how it should be: true love cannot be spoken, put into words, or analyzed, at least for me it can't, but that is what makes loving someone beautiful. As a writer, you're expected to be able to take your feelings and convey them through words, just as a painter would be able to put brushes to canvas and create something that perhaps represents how he or she is feeling. Maybe one day I will know what words to string together to describe how I have felt the past four months, but I won't be disappointed if I never find the right words. Perhaps only people who hold hands over Panera Bread's booth tables know.
If you're at all interested in how much a hypothetical soul would weigh, I recommend going to this website: http://www.lostmag.com/issue1/soulsweight.php.