I would love to believe that when I die I will live again. That some thinking, feeling, remembering part of me will continue. But mush as I want to believe that, and despite the ancient and worldwide cultural traditions that assert an afterlife, I know of nothing to suggest that it is more than wishful thinking. The world is so exquisite with so much love and moral depth that there is no reason to deceive ourselves with pretty stories for which there’s little good evidence. Far better it seems to me, in our vulnerability is to look death in the eye. And to be grateful everyday. For the brief but magnificent opportunity that life provides.
“The most astounding fact is the knowledge that the atoms that comprise life on Earth — the atoms that make up the human body — are traceable to the crucibles that cooked light elements into heavy elements in their core under extreme temperatures and pressures. These stars, the high mass ones among them, went unstable in their later years. They collapsed and then exploded, scattering their enriched guts across the galaxy. Guts made of carbon, nitrogen, oxygen and all the fundamental ingredients of life itself. These ingredients become part of gas cloud that condense, collapse, form the next generation of solar systems–stars with orbiting planets, and those planets now have the ingredients for life itself.
So that when I look up at the night sky, and I know that, yes, we are part of this Universe, we are in this Universe, but perhaps more important than both of those facts is that the Universe is in us. When I reflect on that fact, I look up-many people feel small because they’re small and the universe is big-but I feel big, because my atoms came from those stars. There’s a level of connectivity. That’s really what you want in life, you want to feel connected, you want to feel relevant. You want to feel like a participant in the goings on of activities and events around you. That’s precisely what we are, just by being alive…”