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When you find yourself observing a new place, you absorb the essence of it. As this happens, you either perceive a presence or an absence. Spirit is presence; a perpetual emotional imprint.
The words of a book are infused with spirit. Long-dead authors continue to speak. Their chorus arcs and curves along the space-time continuum, collectively dancing its verbal ballet. Living writers are also partly encompassed within their works, but not bottled up inside. A tome is not a tomb. Books preserve their authors, rather than contain them.
Written exchanges also hold spirit. Messages are scrawled on bathroom walls; words traded between strangers. These conversations retain their vitality and awaken every time they are read.
Everything that has ever been touched emanates spirit. We connect with others through a chain of shared objects, laying hands on one another vicariously.
All songs have spirit. Born in the composer’s imagination, the brainchild is adopted by those who hear it. Each note sounds different to each ear. The musician’s intentions and the listener’s impressions all dwell in the tune. In this rich variance, it thrives. The notes stem from one seed, and then flourish into countless branches bearing fruits of inspiration.
Spirit permeates nature. Trees harbor remembrance of everyone they encounter. Silent witnesses to centuries, they sustain the birds nesting on their boughs, squirrels burrowing into their crevices, and humans etching memories into their bark.
Foggy days are rife with spirit. Mist juxtaposes against crisp cityscapes, suffusing our reality with haze. Even if we can’t see the mist, we feel it in rooms that balloon with presence, like lungs inhaling a breath.
Ghost is the inverse of spirit. It is hollowness and hunger. A ghost is the silence between words; the empty space between objects.
An abandoned house is a ghost. Parts of it contain spirit because it has been touched and experienced, but altogether it is a husk. It lacks any tokens of the former residents. They don’t linger in the edifice; it lingers in them. They gave it any sense of character it acquired, and this cannot be severed from themselves. When they depart, so goes the home.
A ghost is a missed opportunity. It abides in a 24-hour diner with a buzzing neon sign, sipping coffee with a man who sits alone. He recalls the woman who once sat across from him; how they were enmeshed in conversation until 3 a.m. It was a biological destiny. Their DNA codes cracked the combination lock to a shared mental universe; an ecstatic neurochemical tango. Their steps were in perfect rhythm with the dance of written words.
A ghost is left in your wake if you do not share your life with others. Instead of a mark, a void remains. This happens when you seal yourself up in a snow globe and refuse to be shaken. Your mind becomes a bubble expanding with self-contained knowledge. When you’re gone, all you’ve ever learned passes away with you.
I’d like to think that if we share ourselves, we impart on the world after we die. This means that we won’t be anywhere, because we’ll be everywhere. I believe that when this takes place we are not present; we are presence. We disperse and transform into everything we have ever touched, written, read, sung, built, drawn, and loved.
Instead of vanishing from the world, we become it.