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End of Life

Terry Martin's picture

A Funerary Text

Let us put this life in context. "We are such stuff as dreams are made on", said Shakespeare. Well and good, but not very practical. "We are made of star stuff", said Carl Sagan. This is literally true. The atoms of our bodies were born in stars, were sprinkled into space when the stars themselves died, and settled into this planet, were cycled through volcanos and storms, went into the soil, and finally into the food that became us. Like the flowers we see here, we are come from the ground and the air, blessed by the energy of sunlight, and made into forms unique and wonderful. Like the flowers, we wilt and die, and eventually return our atoms to nourish the soil, to become part of other flowers, persons, great whales, birds, and trees. This is the endless cycle of nature, and we revel that for a time we blossom.

But unlike the plants and animals, we leave behind us a legacy of thoughts in the minds of others, deeds by which we are judged, and words or creations we have crafted. These can be as simple as the warm feelings in our friends and family, or as lofty as a symphony, a book to be read for hundreds of years, or a discovery forever associated with our names. It is the unique characteristic of our species to carry forward the knowledge acquired by earlier individuals to benefit future generations. And this is precisely what motivates us beyond our daily quests: the possibility of nurturing our species not only by helping our progeny survive, but by making the species as a whole better able to survive.

Terry Z. Martin

i think it is so amazing that we are all stars stuff. why does anyone need myths with supernatural figures, dogma, boring ritual, and (usually) misogynous beliefs and practices, etc., etc.

Suzanne Marshall

Way to go Terry! Simple, elegant and easily digestible way to summarize a profound thought. I sometimes like to think of dying as just passing a baton of human achievement to the next generation. Or (this from an inscription on a rock in the Grand Canyon) 'What is it to die, but to stand naked in the wind, and melt into the sun?" I think some drugs helped to inspire that one! Or maybe to fade away, and (thanks to Carl Sagan for the inspiration) travel through the universe, visiting endless worlds most wonderful, with the speed of a god.

Thanks Terry for stating that so well.
I hope to leave some type of (hopefully good) impact (even if a small on) by having lived. -- it is all the meaning my life will need.

Question EVERYTHING (even this)

yes, doing good for society is what I think is useful and valuable. It is gives one a purpose in life now and leaves something worthy behind.

Suzanne Marshall

Someone should start a business taking the deceased and rocketing them into the sun. That would be the ultimate recycling, Yes? Ok, it would be a little expensive, but we'll put Elon Musk on the job, (of SpaceEX, successful orbital rocket builder and contractor for NASA), and who knows. Maybe a group tour would have better rates.