The dead mackerel fixed me with one cold eye. I had it on the table to slit its belly, take out its guts. We had much in common: eye, heart, spine and entrails. Its gills equate to my lungs: alternative ways to put oxygen in the blood. When I die my corpse will be just as inert. As living creatures we’re equally brilliant specimens of functional design.
When it was raised from the sea and left in the air to die, was there a fishy soul to escape and go somewhere? The question is whether I’m different from a mackerel, in the same way that a tree, stone or cloud is. No, there is animal, vegetable, mineral. We are animal. There can be few tribes today still acknowledging the soul of a fish before grilling it in a flame. What do modern people believe? I imagine some hybrid, some fudge, splicing the vestiges of religion with a smattering of evolution. We may accept the Big Bang as science, Eden as myth; yet if “spirituality” has any meaning for us, there’s a leap to be made somewhere. One could check it on the Web, to see what living theologians might have to say; or the late Teilhard de Chardin, who combined being a Jesuit and palaeontologist.
Every tribe, every generation demands answers and explanations, just as every child asks “Why?”
In my case the curiosity lasted no longer than the moments our eyes made contact, mine and the dead mackerel’s.