by Harriet Strahl
While walking in the park and reading the names engraved on the wooden benches along the path, I realized that there are not many things that Plato, Descartes and most religions agree upon. One of these rare beliefs is the immortality of the soul. Science has not yet even proven the existence of souls. Nevertheless, it is possible for an atheist to believe that the soul lives on.
My drawing teacher once told me that artists paint a part of their soul into every one of their artworks. Artists create impressions; and are these not the same, or at least similar, to the impressions we leave every day through our little acts and mannerisms, our words, and the memories we create? Do we therefore give our soul to the world around us, bit by bit?
Every artwork, every crafted thing, every little written note, every act, story and memory, every influence we’ve had on others, every idea we’ve voiced: they all contain a part of who we are. They don’t cease to exist when we stop breathing. They are the carriers of our immortal soul. We may have lost our consciousness and sense of self, but our soul lives on. Archives, museums and libraries are perhaps not just simply sources of knowledge and wisdom. They are repositories of souls.
Our legacy includes our great works and life achievements, but also a multitude of small things that have somehow made an impression. We create them every day, wherever we are, whatever we’re doing. People have left, and continue to leave, parts of their soul scattered across history for us to find. Perhaps one day, when the last monument has crumbled, and humans are no more, we are finally dead.
As long as humans exist, those that came before stay with us. We find and pick up the traces that people have left, and remember them. Memories are everywhere: in the library, in architecture, in our heads and in our genes, and in every single park with names engraved upon wooden benches; the dwellings of immortal souls.