One of my best friends and I have a standing joke: I must have talked him into incarnating before we were born, because he can’t think of any other reason he would have chosen physicality. He loves to read and watch TV. But it’s difficult to persuade him to adventure about in the world. He rolls his eyes and says "physical reality.”
But I love earth life, with its combination of slowness and solidity punctuated by sudden, dramatic changes. And, I must admit, sometimes the emotional drama of life here is part of what I experience as its beauty.
I don’t know how to imagine the arts except in their physical expression. How would I experience Bach or Mozart without my physical ears to hear a cello or a piano? How would an artist paint without pigment and canvas? Where would I see the beauty of a flower except in an earthly garden with its fragility, its transience, its exorbitant physical creativity.
When I ask these questions I feel like a child. When I was young, I often told myself that I’d try not to grow up. I didn’t want to leave childhood. I didn’t want to leave play. I didn’t want to turn into an adult. As far as I could tell adults mostly sat around in chairs and talked. It was a great mystery to me what the fun of that was.
Maybe my attachment to earth life is a child-like infatuation. Perhaps eventually I'll discover that direct access to the higher energies behind these physical wonders is even more sublime. I do want to grow. When the time comes, I hope to be ready. On some level I trust that it won’t be so bad to leave physical reality.
But part of me always wants to feel the sun on my face.
No, Plato, No
I can't imagine anything
that I would less like to be
than a disincarnate Spirit,
unable to chew or sip
or make contact with surfaces
or breathe the scents of summer
or comprehend speech and music
or gaze at what lies beyond.
No. God has placed me exactly
where I'd have chosen to be:
the sub-lunar world is such fun,
where Man is male or female
and gives Proper Names to all things.
I can, however, conceive
that the organs Nature gave Me,
my ductless glands, for instance,
slaving twenty-four hours a day
with no show of resentment
to gratify Me, their Master,
and keep Me in decent shape,
(not that I give them their orders,
I wouldn't know what to yell),
dream of another existence
than that they have known so far:
yes, it well could be that my Flesh
is praying for "Him" to die,
so setting Her free to become
--W. H. Auden, from the collection of poems called "Thank You, Fog" written 1972-1973