Rick's Space

Body And Soul

I don’t trust modern medicine.

I prefer the Hindu philosophy about death: We simply discard our bodies when we don’t need them anymore.

(Note: I am not sure if this is the Hindu philosophy or something I read in Cream magazine 40 years ago.)

This used to infuriate my mother and father, both of whom were in the medical profession.

“You better get that thing checked,” my mother would say if I sneezed or coughed or, more frequently, came home with a rash of some sort.

“Don’t worry,” I’d reply. “I’m going to drop my body soon.”

She would look at me perplexed and then say something like, “Well, don’t drop it down the laundry shoot or we’ll never get it back.”

Another similar discussion went like this:

“Mom, I’m going to shed my body.”

“What, like a dog? We had a hound once. Shed all over. Don’t you dare get hair on my new couch!”

“My body has been a good friend. But I won’t need it when I reach the end,” I would say, quoting some ancient Greek philosopher. (Or was it Cat Stevens, the noted terrorist?)

Simply put, as we evolve we have less and less need for our bodies because our minds grow (mine must be located in my belly). At least we tell ourselves this nonsense since each day we get a little older and uglier. The trouble with this theory is our minds don’t really grow — we’re getting dumber, too. It’s the inevitable march to our Colostomy Bag Years.

When I told my father I was going to shed my body he said, “You will not, mister. When you’re finished with high school you’re going to college — you and your body! As long as you live under my roof you’ll keep your body right where it belongs — on your body!”

We don’t die at death, we simply enter the more spiritual phase of life — it’s kind of like ARRP without the insurance discount.

This lasts for eternity, or until Social Security runs out.

This is why I do not feel the need to go to the doctor — because I am going to be a god someday . . . and because I can’t afford my co-pay under Obamacare.

In Frank Herbert’s brilliant science fiction series “Dune,” the world was ruled by huge bulbous Guild Navigators who were so cerebral they required no body. Their essence was suspended in a bubble and they had the capacity to “fold space,” that is, travel great distances in a matter of seconds.

I tried to explain to my father once that these rulers were the author’s version of “god” – supremely intelligent people who evolved to the point that their bodies were no longer needed.

“Give me that book,” he said, grabbing it. “No wonder. This is science fiction! Jesus Christ!”

To dad, all sci-fi was written by Communists.

Dad also believed any man with a beard “had something to hide.” He repeatedly warned me to stay away from anyone with a beard but never explained why. All I know is I haven’t seen my Uncle Fred in 37 years even though he has a room up in the attic.

My big fear — I’m being honest here — is that I go to the doctor, he looks under my tongue, and then holds the whatever you call it to my chest for 10 seconds. And then he says, “That will be $150!” And then he says, “OMG! You are like, sooooo dead! How did you even walk in here? You have every known disease!”

“How much time do I have left doc?” I ask timidly.

“I doubt you’ll even make it back to your car.”

Just my luck, I’ll be parked at a meter.

As I’m leaving he shouts, “And don’t you dare drop that body of yours in my waiting room!”

There’s the old story about the guy who quit smoking after 30 years and got run over by a Marlboro truck two weeks later.

The moral is when your time is up it’s up, or, as Robert Hunter wrote, “If the thunder don’t get you then the lightning will.”

If you see me dropping or shedding see what you can do for me.

Rick Murphy is a six-time winner of the New York Press Association Best Column award as well as the winner of first place awards from the National Newspaper Association and the Suburban Newspaper Association of America and a two-time Pulitzer Prize nominee.