On the rules we live by

So I’m trying to explain astral projection to Jessica, who is possibly the world’s most literal person, which makes this task somewhat more difficult than it may sound, and we end up discussing my spiritual beliefs which are, um, eclectic.

I don’t believe in astral projection, although I’m pretty sure I’ve experienced it, and I don’t believe in an afterlife, but there had damned well better be a mead hall at the end of all this or I’m going to be seriously pissed, and I don’t see how a soul can exist after the consciousness that gave rise to it ceases to be, though I swear that was my grandfather’s spirit that night so many years ago when I needed the comfort.

I was raised Catholic, which is how I can fully believe two contradictory ideas at once and not have my brain explode, but I sometimes feel that I’m failing Jessica, that I should have thought up my version of the Ten Commandments long before now, Rules by Which We Live, and I say something like this to Jessica.

“We do have things like that but we don’t call them rules,” she says.


“You know, that we will love each other no matter what, and we will always tell each other the truth.”

“Right. Those.” I feel slightly better. I have not been a total slacker in the moral guidance category.

“And there is another one.” For a moment she can’t remember what it is and then she says, “The third rule is we will live happily ever after.”

“That’s not exactly a rule,” I say. “That’s one of the wishes. You know, about having good work to do and like that. The three wishes.”

“Tell me the wishes.”

“That you will grow up big and strong, and that I will always have good work to do, and that we will live happily ever after.”

“Those are good wishes.”

“I’ve always liked them.” There used to be more, but those are the ones I remember, the only ones that have survived the years, winnowed down to the three that matter most.

“We have two promises and three wishes. I do not think we need more than that,” Jessica says, using the same tone she uses when she’s trying to get out of doing her homework.

“Maybe not.”

“It has worked so far,” she says, and indeed it has.


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