A summer thunderstorm woke me in the middle of the night. The wind battered through the trees, the way it had for days after my brother Billy died. Unable to fall back asleep, I was reflecting on how much I’d changed since then. After months of communicating with Billy and following him on his journey through the afterlife, I now believed that other dimensions existed. I’d never be able to think of life or death, myself, the cosmos or just about anything else the way I used to.
Soon, Billy’s voice came through the wind.
The world is your oyster
The world is your oyster
And in the oyster shell you will find
Pearls of Wisdom
When I say, “the world is your oyster,” it sounds pretty good, right? Like all these gorgeous pearls will just be coming your way and you’ll be living on so-called easy street. But the saga of the oyster and the pearl is more complicated than it first appears. The pearl only happens when sand gets inside an oyster and irritates it.
The world is my oyster? Full of irritation? What kind of blessing is that?
I know. You’d like to just la-di-da through life, easy does it, instead of being stuck with a sandy oyster (laughs). If I give you Billy’s prescription for making pearls, would you like that?
Yes, I know, the irritation doesn’t feel good, but without it there would be no pearl. Don’t focus too much on the irritation. Try to relax about the sand. If you deal with the sand creatively, you’ll have a gorgeous treasure.
To be a pearl maker, your oyster needs a good strong shell to protect you from a hundred million irritants in your environment. Your shell helps you tell one grain of sand from the other. You know which one can become a pearl and which one isn’t worth the irritation.
If you become a really smart oyster, with a good shell, you can live life with more abandon because you don’t have to worry so much about the sand.
“Oh there’s that sand again. This always happens when I take a big bite out of the ocean. I’ll spit most of it out and won’t be too concerned about the rest.”
And why don’t you have to be too concerned? Have you looked inside an oyster lately? It’s soft, fertile and unformed. The inside of your oyster is your creative spark, your pearl-making laboratory. Smart people work in laboratories, right? Well, since you are the Universe, your laboratory is run by none other than the Universal Intelligence.
The same Intelligence that grows trees from seeds, that lets birds fly, that waves the ocean and gives birth to new stars, that same Intelligence also breathes your breath, beats your heart and heals your wounds.
How can I say that you are the Universe? Because I have become as small as the smallest quantum particle, and as big as the multitude of galaxies that exist in space. I was always like that, really. I just didn’t know it. And so is everyone else.
Look at pictures of the Universe. Then close your eyes and imagine those stars clouds and comets and galaxies inside and all around you.
When you turn your attention to the limitless, the irritation seems small compared to the sun and moon and stars. When you imagine the infinite, you’re touched by your infinite self.
Excerpted from The Afterlife of Billy Fingers: How My Bad Boy Brother Proved to Me There’s Life After Death by Annie Kagan © 2013 Hampton Roads Publishing, distributed by Red Wheel/Weiser. Now available at Amazon and B&N.com.