13 August 2010

Death in 3 Parts

Kicking off Weirdness Friday with a post on death seems appropriate. Our society is pretty weird about death. But the real reason for this post was a study referred to by Mind Hacks.

Here's the finding that intrigued me. Where life is valued, death has more meaning (the study says "accessible" which strikes me as a flim flam word). As a writer (a storyteller) I believe humans are meaning-makers. Our stories precede us into strange lands. They become our maps. I just hadn't taken this thought to death. The more we value life, the more meaning we feel compelled to find in its ending.

The second weirdness is embalming. I've quickly scanned but not read the Wiki article. I just wanted to note that our society pumps bodies full of chemicals before consigning them to flames or earth never to be seen again. (Disclaimer: I'm a closed caskets believer). Doesn't seem very green to me.

Consigning our bodies to earth or flame leads neatly into my final point. One I've written about in poetry (have you noticed how much poets love death?), but which still nags at me. The Earth isn't a closed system, but close to it. The consequence is that atoms that have made up other people, plants, animals and dinosaurs now make up us. We are collections of atoms that have been other living creatures. I think this is amazing.


  1. I think Carl Sagan put it most poetically when he said we are made of stars. If you're interested, he had many other interesting things to say: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/c/carl_sagan.html

  2. I love the star quote, but I didn't know how very quotable he was. My new favourite, "Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known."

    Of course, the one on celibate clergy is pretty good, too ;)

    Thanks, Kaz!


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