Oblivion

A friend of mine today shared with me what felt like a somewhat desperate opinion about death.

He said that, since someone important to him died a while back, he is now the only person who knows certain things about her… there is no one left on the planet to carry forward these pieces of her, these memories of her… and, when he dies, all of these parts of her – parts that he finds to be spectacular and worth keeping alive – will be lost to oblivion… much like the great Augustus Waters feared for his own life.*

I, however, have found that I do not see things so desperately as my friend does.

For one thing, I never fully understood Augustus Waters’ fear of being lost… In everything I do, I affect the whole world around me… Whether people know my name or not, whether the trees talk or not, part of me exists in all of them, simply because our paths have crossed… Whether I like it or not, parts of me are spread throughout the world, and those parts will travel on forever, no matter whether my physical body is still breathing and pumping blood.

In a way, I always will exist in this universe… and I do not feel separate from the rest of what is here within it now, nor do I feel like a spectator – I am part of this universe, and it is part of me…

A single drip onto a pond sends ripples that change the whole… even if the fish doesn’t know it, his path was altered because of a drip on the far side of the pond…

And I already know that most of my ripples are more like waves in this life…

Now, for another thing, if things are as this friend expressed them to be, is that not all the more reason to value the unparalleled opportunity it was for him to have been witness to these parts of her?… these beauties are only in existence for this short and brief time in the world… let them not go to waste by brooding over their eventual loss… instead, embrace and love them while they are here now, and be grateful that he had the opportunity to be the one to know them.

Otherwise, it is almost an insult to the beauty of the memories and to the person of whom they are remembered – she was amazing, so let us be amazed…. and the memory of her only lasts so long, so let us embrace it while it lasts, and be grateful that we were honored with such a unique and limited experience.

Just my thoughts from this morning… I think they are part of why death has always been a sort of mixed bag for me… I simultaneously and terrified of it, and feel oddly connected to it and rather unafraid… when it is time, it is time, because a body is ready to move on to the next stage of things… it’s almost not even personal…, even though it is…

::sigh….. oh, well… that’s all I have to say on that for the moment…

*If you don’t get the reference, Google it, and help yourself onto the young and hip bandwagon. 😉

P.S. Turns out that I had something else to say on this… I remembered just now what a friend of mine shared years ago, after her mother died… it is something that resonated with me then, and still does today (specifically the sections in bold, with a big bam on the underlined part at the end)… it is from 2005 by Aaron Freeman:

You want a physicist to speak at your funeral. You want the physicist to talk to your grieving family about the conservation of energy, so they will understand that your energy has not died. You want the physicist to remind your sobbing mother about the first law of thermodynamics; that no energy gets created in the universe, and none is destroyed. You want your mother to know that all your energy, every vibration, every Btu of heat, every wave of every particle that was her beloved child remains with her in this world. You want the physicist to tell your weeping father that amid energies of the cosmos, you gave as good as you got.

And at one point you’d hope that the physicist would step down from the pulpit and walk to your brokenhearted spouse there in the pew and tell him that all the photons that ever bounced off your face, all the particles whose paths were interrupted by your smile, by the touch of your hair, hundreds of trillions of particles, have raced off like children, their ways forever changed by you. And as your widow rocks in the arms of a loving family, may the physicist let her know that all the photons that bounced from you were gathered in the particle detectors that are her eyes, that those photons created within her constellations of electromagnetically charged neurons whose energy will go on forever.

And the physicist will remind the congregation of how much of all our energy is given off as heat. There may be a few fanning themselves with their programs as he says it. And he will tell them that the warmth that flowed through you in life is still here, still part of all that we are, even as we who mourn continue the heat of our own lives.

And you’ll want the physicist to explain to those who loved you that they need not have faith; indeed, they should not have faith. Let them know that they can measure, that scientists have measured precisely the conservation of energy and found it accurate, verifiable and consistent across space and time. You can hope your family will examine the evidence and satisfy themselves that the science is sound and that they’ll be comforted to know your energy’s still around. According to the law of the conservation of energy, not a bit of you is gone; you’re just less orderly. Amen.

-Aaron Freeman.

Here’s a link to the piece of NPR for “All Things Considered”, one of my favorite segments on NPR, in which this all was originally said publicly by Aaron Freeman… it is a lovely three-minute listen. 🙂

Post-a-day 2020

The planets align…(?)

I went to see my friend’s theatre production of “The Diary of Anne Frank” this morning.

Tonight, on the way home, I selected my leisure audiobook (instead of my current school one, for which I must pay attention and make bookmarks in it as I listen to it), because I needed a break from making my brain work extra while driving.

It was the final section of Malcolm Gladwell’s David and Goliath.

The topic – something of which I had no idea until I heard it tonight – was the Holocaust.

Talk about that as coincidence – twice has this book popped up at exactly the right moment of coincidence.

First it was with the actual story of David and Goliath lining up with my Bible reading (which has been going on for years, by the way, and I only just happened to be at that part right as I re-began Malcolm Gladwell’s book [I had switched from the Kindle edition, which had fallen flat due to my schedule, to an audiobook, which had only just become available through the public library]), and now with this play!

Awesome, isn’t it?

And, just for fun, let’s throw in the title of this writing, one which I determined to connect as best I could manage to these coincidences… and which I hadn’t considered as connecting to anything else when I came up with it.

Tonight, as I munched on my dinner and snuggled next to an air heater, I watched the rest of the first episode of “The Magic School Bus”…, which involves the phone-caller at the end complaining about how the map had shown the planets all nicely lined up, and how that was totally not the case almost ever.

That’s a fun coincidence, too, though not quite the same as the other two.

Also, just a fun fact, that episode talked about the nine planets of our solar system, and how ‘Pluto actually will still be inside Neptune’s orbit until 1999.’

!!!!! 1999 !!!!! That’s totally the past

(Obviously, I knew that I was watching an old show, since I had actually seen it when I was a child, but I was surprised at just how old it turned out to be.)

But, it turns out that the show started in 1994, and so 1999 was a little while into the future back then… so was that awful declaration that I ignore about Pluto…

P.S. Talk about diversity: Take a look at that class of Miss Frizzle’s!

Post-a-day 2018

Sleep

The importance of sleep has never evaded me…

I just forget about it from time to time.

And then I am brutally reminded of it in situations like tonight, when I am practically breaking down in tears over my first assignment in grad school, which happens to be one that really is not a big deal, but that I just dislike and don’t want to do, and my tired brain cannot cope with the task at hand combined with exhaustion and dislike and rustiness of subject.

Sleep is a blessing, and withholding it (i.e. not being responsible about it to where I have enough of it) is somewhat self-destructive.

Post-a-day 2018

career planning like child’s play

As I pondered about today at work, with no actual work to do, but tons of pastimes to pursue at my desk, I somehow came to the idea of thinking like a child.  I think I was inspired from the fact that a girl in this one movie was about to become a full-fledged lawyer, and I found myself somewhat envious.  It got me thinking about how, as a child, I never really wanted to be anything specific when I grew up.  Sure I said singer/actor, but that was kind of a ‘just ’cause’ answer, not an impassioned one – my heart was certainly not in it.  It just sounded fun to be famous and super talented, you know?

So, as I was thinking about how kids have these people they want to be when they grow up, and how ridiculous those things sometimes sound, and then how boring of jobs those kids typically eventually end up getting when they are adults, I got into the crazy-ish idea of, “Well, if I were a kid now, what would I want to be when I grow up?”  And that’s when the fun started.

It didn’t take very long for me to come to my conclusion.  Fully-passioned and excited, I felt a need to share the news with the world.  I didn’t think much beyond that – sharing it – other than how fun it sounded, and how silly it would be should I actually somehow become such an individual.  Why?  Well, I said that I want to be a cello-playing ballerina artist who does astronomy and physics stuff for fun.

So, I posted about it on the beautiful world of Facebook.  After seeing a few of the comments that friends made, however, I began actually thinking about such a career path for myself.  Part of the whole reason I started thinking about it, was because I thought it crazy how kids, who can do next-to-nothing about it, are so passionate about what they want to do for their jobs, and yet adults, who have all the ability to do something about their current jobs, tend to be so dispassionate about their careers.  So, here I am, taking on a child’s passion in terms of career direction/choice (really, choosing freely (as a child chooses) what I would do, if I could do anything I wanted), and I suddenly realized that I am one of those adults who is in a position actually to do something about my career.

Wow.  The more I thought about it, the more I realized how easy it could be for me.  Yes, it is loads and loads of hard work.  I know.  But I’m talking about practicality of the situation.  I’ve recently re-begun ballet lessons, I’m picking up my own art supplies next week in order to continue in my student-taught art lessons I’ve been receiving, and I’m working at a school with lots of musical connections (likely with links to a student of some age who could start teaching me to play the cello).  And this is all just in my small town in Japan.  When I move back to my big city in the US this Summer/Fall, I’ll have innumerable resources at my fingertips.  And, without even realizing this earlier today, I have made specific progress towards this goal for the Fall: I now recall that I have already spoken to a sort of art expert to help me find some appropriate art classes for me to take this coming Fall.

Life is looking beautiful on the career path front.  I in almost no way have a ballerina’s body.  And that’s okay.  I don’t want to be on the main stage.  I know that.  But I want to be dancing ballet.  🙂  (I’m so excited about this, I can’t stop smiling and having a little delighted shudder race through me every so often as I think about it all.)

My cousin commented about my career goals being similar to the career of Hedy Lamar.  I had to look her up, though I recognized the name.  As I was on the phone with my mom, I asked her what she knew about Hedy.  Just that she was a black and white actress, very gorgeous 30s look.  When I found her Wikipedia page, I read it aloud to my mother, and we both were amazed – she was fabulous, and my cousin was exactly right in comparing my career goals to the career of Hedy Lamar!  Check her out.  She was awesome.  She and the guy from Queen (Brian May) who has a PhD in Astrophysics.  They rock.

So, yeah… that’s today’s ponderings that I cared to share here.  🙂  Peace out, yo.

 

Post-a-day 2017