My daughter was six years old when she asked me a difficult question. I was putting her in bed, when that question surprised, baffled and then finally, made me pause for a while.
“Mama, what is an immortal soul?
Long nervous pause from me. “Immortal souls are those people who have good souls. They always help people and are loving just like you.“
“I have an immortal soul?“
“Yes, you have.“
She seems to be satisfied with the answer. Then I asked suspiciously, “Where did you hear that immortal soul?“
She would look at me with exasperation. “Oh, from the Little Mermaid. She turned into a foam, but then some spirits helped her to become an immortal soul.“
“Ah okey-.“ I could only answer.
I did not know that the Little Mermaid that she was hearing on her radio is already espousing serious topics like immortal souls. Maybe, I should screen her audio cds before giving it to her.
On hindsight, it was a difficult question that needed careful answers. I responded to it by using the Christian concept of good souls going to heaven and bad souls going to hell. Or if I translate it to the level of a six-year old, it would be just plain good souls partying with Saint Peter and the angels and the bad souls grilling with their best friend under the earth.
The Little Mermaid revisited
I got curious. Immediately, I started researching and reading the Little Mermaid and voila! there really is an interesting part about immortal souls:
However, the Little Mermaid cannot bring herself to kill the sleeping prince lying with his new bride, and she throws the dagger and herself off the ship into the water just as dawn breaks. Her body dissolves into foam, but instead of ceasing to exist, she feels the warm sun and discovers that she has turned into a luminous and ethereal earthbound spirit, a daughter of the air. As the Little Mermaid ascends into the atmosphere, she is greeted by other daughters who tell her she has become like them because she strove with all her heart to obtain an immortal soul. Because of her selflessness, she will be given the chance to earn her own soul by doing good deeds to mankind for 300 years and will one day rise up into the Kingdom of God.
This made me think deeply about immortal souls. I questioned my forty-year old self who goes only to church when she feels like it and who questions some old Catholic rituals. I knew that have gone a long way from the accepting Catholic that I was.
I don’t want to believe that when a person dies, that was the end of the journey. I don’t want to believe that after a lifetime of searching for the meaning of life, that a person just claims a piece of earth and be eaten by maggots.
I still believe that there is life beyond the mediocrity of life, that there is life beyond routine, responsibilities and even selfies. This is the concept that keeps me going. It does not matter in what form it comes, whether I would be singing with Saint Peter in heaven, or being reborn into a Shakira look-alike body. The semantics do not matter. I just want to plainly believe that I did not jog everyday and tried to be semi-vegetarian, just to get eaten by maggots in my final existence on earth.
So even at my age, there is still that part of me that believes in Little Mermaid stories, like my daughter. That mankind are not created just to be pass through a lifetime on this planet, that there is life beyond death and that this life would be filled with meaning and love.
Reference: The Little Mermaid. (n.d.). In Wikipedia. Retrieved September 6, 2016, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Little_Mermaid