Hemingway in the afterlife

July 2 is the 51st anniversary of the day that Ernest Hemingway — old, sick, a shadow of his former self, his memories and his ability to write destroyed by electroshock “treatments” — shot himself to death. When I first made nonphysical contact with him, half a dozen years ago, I half-expected to find him in need of assistance, as suicides often are. But, that wasn’t the case. The following is from my forthcoming book of transcripts of those conversations, Hemingway on Hemingway: Afterlife Conversations, which will be published in September. It offers a view of the afterlife that I find plausible and appealing, though obviously not the whole story.

Gone fishing

Saturday May 13, 2006. Mr. Hemingway, meet my father. I always thought you two would have liked each other.

You are right. One thing I couldn’t stand is phonies, and another is pretentious phonies, and a third is pretentious phony fools – and your father is none of the three.

The fact that the two of you looked somewhat alike – does that show any inner likeness? I mean, can that be generalized?

Neither your father nor I were very interested in that kind of generalization. What good does it do?

Now that you have been introduced via me – if in fact you didn’t know each other previously – will that cause some kind of change on your side?

You forget, your dad read my books. That’s a direct connection.

[In my experience, contacting people simultaneously thereby puts them into contact with each other, regardless when they lived. However, the fact that Dad had been a Hemingway fan means that there was already a connection. Those unnamed discarnate personalities that I call The Guys Upstairs have said that anyone who reads a book is connected not only to the author but to everyone else who reads the book!]

2:05 p.m. All right. Mr. Hemingway – you presumably know my situation. Can you help me? [This referred to writing a novel I was planning.] And if so, would you? And if so, is there something I can do for you?

Something you can do for me? You mean something like a retrieval, I suppose. [That is, help in realizing that he was no longer alive on earth, as is sometimes needed.] No, I’m not in need of that kind of assistance – although now that you mention it, I can see that perhaps even this part of me ought to be moving on to other things.

I don’t understand.

The spirit is always fine, you know that. The soul can get stuck by not being aware that it is not in the Earth any more, or it can go to do other things or it can bask in its surroundings, so to speak. I have been on vacation a good while now. Maybe it is time to move on.

I still don’t quite get it, though I get the sense you are going to fill me in a little.

When I left the body – when I blew myself out of that situation – I knew what I was doing, and why. I wasn’t emotionally distraught, I wasn’t out of my mind, and I wasn’t even depressed – once I’d figured out how to get out. So when I got over to this side – as you always put it – I knew where and who I was and how I’d gotten here. I was fine, despite what you’ve heard about suicides. The bad effects of suicide have a lot more to do with attitudes than with a given act.

I went back to being in my mid-thirties. I was happy then. I’d taken my lumps and I’d already left Hadley, which was a stupid thing to do but there you are, and I was in the prime of life. I was healthy, able, clear-sighted and I could do about anything I ever had a reasonable chance to do. I could shoot, I could fish, I could ride, I could write. I saw beauty everywhere and I loved being alive! It was people and their actions and emotions that were hard, and here that isn’t a problem.

As you are beginning to discover, loneliness is not a factor here, either. We’re all connected. So you’re as alone as you wish and as connected as you wish. It’s perfect! If you want to go fishing, it’s as real as going fishing on earth – especially to the degree that you release control.

I think I know what you mean, but –

Not much fun fishing if every time you throw the line you know you are going to catch a fish, and even less fun if you know that every one is going to be prize category. So – release control and it’s just like earth. You are deliberately renouncing your ability to create what you want, you see, or maybe I should say you are creating a range of results and renouncing timing and control over which one manifests and where and when and how often. Maybe there’ll be days you don’t catch anything. You might think that would spoil it, but it doesn’t – it enhances it when you do catch something. Just like in your dimensions.

Well, just as you do that with fishing, you do it with relationships. What’s the point in having a perfect romance, day after day, with a predictably adorable other person who adores you too? You’d get sugar diabetes of the emotions! So you relinquish control and you let people come to you sometimes – as you did. As Hadley does. As my children still do.

You were reading Islands in the Stream last night and thought how the impact is different when you don’t think of death as The End.

And you just happened to be in my mind this morning, suggesting that we talk?

It was only a suggestion. You might have said no, or not noticed.

What is my attraction, to you? That I read your books? That I too am trying to write?

That you read my books makes it more possible because for one thing it puts me in your mind – I mean that you are thinking about me. That you want to write a novel puts us into a different relation when you read my book; it’s like talking shop. But the important thing – the reason you have been contacted by so many people, whether on your initiative or theirs – is because you are the model for a new way for people to relate to the past. It is alive to you as it is to few – now you are seeing how much more alive it is and can be.

It is an amazing blossoming out of richness.

Available to all, and it will be much more so as others realize it by reading about it and trying for themselves.

[Following this exchange, I began buying and reading everything he had written. But more than a year went by before these conversations really began.]


9 thoughts on “Hemingway in the afterlife

  1. Interestingly I woke this morning from a dream where I was getting tackle together to go fishing. I love fishing, but haven’t been able to fish for several years due to various commitments that keep me at home. I was filled with the excitement of getting ready, which Hemingway would certainly understand. And then your posting … how apt!

    I’ll definitely buy the book if you do it in Kindle format.

  2. Like Paul above, I also recently had a lucid dream of preparing gear and going fishing. While mine detailed various fishing activities, it was also an allegory for a particular relationship…but in the opposite direction from the emotional sugar diabetes…how about an emotional hypoglycemia.

    I greatly look forward to reading your book…these teasers are wonderfully effective!

  3. I think you would enjoy reading “Paris Without End: The True Story of Hemingway’s First Wife,” (Hadley) by Gioia Diliberto.

    It’s a fascinating story; the author had access to hundreds of pages of Hadley’s letters. She was his muse, evidently, and a good sport to boot.

    Re: suicide – Gordon Phinn, in his book, “Eternal Life and How to Enjoy It,” has some interesting things to say about it. Refreshing. I think every circumstance is different, too.

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