Threading the Needle
Is water wet?
Are you a soul?
When a raindrop falls from the sky and hits your coat, seeping in, making it wet, what has happened? When wetness crawls up a tissue dipped in a bowl, what has happened? When droplets of water slide off a plastic bag, what has happened? When ice floats on water, what has happened?
Water is made up of many small molecules that push and pull on one another. These molecules are little magnets, so they pull on their opposites and push on their matches. They move vibrantly between and with each other, moving faster if they are warm and slower if they are cold. These little rules, their speed, and their magnetism are very small. One little water molecule has these rules, but they cannot do much on their own. If they are attracted to a magnet on a different material, they don’t do much. If they are slowed down by the cold, they don’t do much. But put two, or three, or four little water molecules together and they can do so much more.
They can freeze into place creating solid ice, which is less dense than the liquid it came from. This is emergence.
They can defy gravity by leapfrogging over each other up a porous substance like tissue or xylem. This is emergence.
They can make something wet by holding onto it. This is emergence.
Now, when you think about yourself, wondering if you are good enough or if you can make it through the day, what has happened? When others look at you and judge you according to what you do or look like, what has happened? When you are hurt or lost, what has happened?
You are made up of many tiny pieces that push and pull on one another. These pieces are your cells, your scars, your neuron pathways. They are your genes, your experiences, your fears. They are the colour of your skin, the genitals that you’ve discovered on your body, the colour of your eyes. They are your family, your heart, and your dreams. They connect and disconnect with each other forming tissue and organs and thoughts. They move vibrantly between and with each other, moving faster if they are warm and slower if they are cold. One little piece of you has these rules, but they cannot do much on their own. One of your cells cannot dream about a beautiful person despite having all of your DNA. But put these little pieces of you together and they can do so much more.
They can wonder about their own existence. This is emergence.
They can love themselves, their neighbour, and their world. This is emergence.
They can have a name. This is emergence.
The Great Tapestry
Many people, themselves whole, want to make sense of the world and so they try to break everyone down into pieces. This is not wrong. People are made of many little pieces and trying to understand the pieces can help you understand the whole.
Many people, themselves little pieces, want to make sense of the world so they try to put everyone together into wholes. This is not wrong. People come together to form wholes all the time, and trying to understand the whole can help you understand the pieces.
But your name cannot be left simplified.
It is big and small. The molecule’s rules are themselves emergent of the atoms that make them up. The fears you tremble with are themselves emergent of the moments that defined them. Water’s rules are part of systems far larger than one droplet. Your relationships are part of groups that are far larger than any one person. You are emergent, and we recognize that through your name.
When we call you by your name we are not speaking to your eye, your skin, or your genitals, though fools may forget this. When we call you by your name we are speaking to all of you at once. When your mother says your name, an announcer at an event, or a friend after a night of talking, your response is a promise that your name contains a matrix of experiences, thoughts, and objects that you will share according to your will. For you are all of these things, and yet also more than their sum.
You can transform your name. You are elevated above it, casting magics according to your will to transform what fills your name or replace it outright. The power that flows from your name and your will can be contributed to larger names that you believe in, that you think will build a better world. You can use your name to give names to others that need one, a child, a pet, or a lake. You can use your name to power the magic of these spirits, to take care of them. That power makes you a soul; you can change your name and others.
More is different. Less is different. Move up and down, side to side, bigger and smaller. You are both gloriously unique and powerfully common. Your uniqueness and your commonness are not contradictory. Both-and. Your uniqueness connects you downwards to bodies and earth. Your commonness connects you upwards into the group and society. Your discoveries about yourself will teach you how special, and common, you truly are. You have the power to name spirits and be part of a god’s name. Your power can only come as a stitch in the Grand Fabric; a place where energy flows from the smallest atomic relationships to the greatest policies of nations, or from the biggest ideas of our gods to the smallest dramas of a clover. You are magical because, and only because, you are entangled in the universe.
When the journey upwards and downwards through the layers of reality comes to an end and you are left with your body, your experiences, and your relationships; you are you. Your body connects you to love, your experiences connect you to people, your name connects you to magic.
This is your soul, mind, heart, your personhood. You; this mind that is thinking, this soul that is feeling, this heart that is beating, and this person that is being. You are your name; you are over, under, and through it. You are a Soul.