21 grams

I recently came across a film by this title – I haven't seen it – and this post isn't a review of it, but it really intrigued me when I found out what it was about.

Initially, I assumed it was a drugs reference, but I dug deeper and found it that referred to the publication of a 1907 scientific study intent on capturing the proof of weight of a human soul.

Duncan MacDougall, a physician from Massachusetts, hypothesised that souls have physical weight and attempted to measure the mass lost by a human when the soul departed the body.

MacDougall measured the mass change of six patients, and one of them lost 21 grams of weight at the moment of death.

He acknowledged that the experiment would need to be repeated many times over before any conclusions could be drawn. It is widely regarded as flawed – in its methods, and the fact that only one of the participants met the hypothesis. Despite its unscientific nature, the experiment popularised the concept of the soul having weight, and that it weighed 21 grams.

This really struck a chord with me when I read about it. The idea of the soul having weight is a powerful one.

Soul is defined as “the spiritual or immaterial part of a human being regarded as immortal”. It is the part of us that Christians believe transcends into heaven after death and lives on forever.

I don't believe in God, but I lean towards agnostic rather than atheistic. I believe in something, I'm just not always certain what that something is.

I don't believe in heaven or hell. I believe that when we die, we die. But I do believe that our actions in life can have a long-lasting effect, a legacy that bears fruit for years to come.

It's up to us to do valuable things with our limited time, whatever they may be.

These are strange, troubling times and life feels very much on hold at the moment. It's difficult to process what's going on between the corona virus pandemic, the resulting lockdown and what's happening worldwide due to the awful events surrounding the death of George Floyd in America.

It certainly feels like my soul – the part of me that I want to fly free after death and carry on whatever I start in life – is bearing more weight than usual.

So, I wanted to ask you this question:

How heavy is soul right now?

Is your strong spirit soaring high? Are you coping ok? It's really ok if you're not.

Cos that's the thing about your soul. It can take a hammering and still bounce back. It's the part of you that can really feel gravity's pull sometimes, and absorb the problems that are lying heavily on your shoulders.

I just wanted to tell you that you don't have to passively wait for this 'all to blow over'.

You can start to release some of the weight from your soul right now. And you can do that by enjoying the things that set your soul on fire.

For me – there's a lot of things. Like running. I've been able to get out a little more than usual lately, and that is helping me to fly a little higher.

Listening to loud music! Spending more time with family! Friday night Zoom film quizzes with friends! Eating the right things! Even writing this now is helpful!

I'm doing a little less of what's weighing me down. Not watching so much news, trying to stay off social media so much and not listening to negative voices who are intent on focusing on all the things that are weighing their souls down at the moment.

If souls do have weight – and I strongly suspect there could be something in that (I certainly like to think there is, I can roll with this idea) – then I want mine in great shape. Strong enough to carry weight when necessary, but able to soar high at a moment's notice.

It's not in bad shape right now. I hope yours is doing ok too.