“AN OAK TREE AND I … HAVE A COMMON ANCESTOR.”
Dr. Carl SaganCarl Sagan in his wondrous and surprisingly lyrical book, on the science of the cosmos, binds our humanity with the origin of the world. In “Cosmos” he writes, “an oak tree and I … have a common ancestor”. For the first time I understood our real connection with the plant and animal kingdoms. We are each born. We live. We die. That is it.
I find that thought liberating. We can choose to live well, or not, to be as loving or as hateful, as kind or spiteful, as happy or sad, as resourceful or slothful, as ethical or unethical as we want. So, this is it. Enjoy your life. Make as much of it as you can … if you choose to!
As Oprah says (but not necessarily in this context), ‘Live your best life.’
Untimely Death . Disasters
Dr. Carl Sagan’s curriculum vitae is impressive. He was an astronomer, astrophysicist, cosmologist and author who’s career included: Professor of Astronomy and Space Science, and Director of the Laboratory for Planetary Studies, at Cornell University; Advisor and Consultant to NASA where he helped design Space Missions – Mariner 2, Mariner 9, Viking, Voyager and Galileo. He died in 1998.
Carl Sagan wrote:
“More individuals are born than can possibly survive ..”
Some of us do not survive as long as others. So this comforted me. It removed the guilt that some religions impose on us … that our misdemeanors are in some way the cause, and the resulting effect, of personal tragedies.
We hear people cry, “Why me? Why my child?” I believe it is simply the randomness of nature, ‘natural selection’ … and, understanding the awful truth of Sagan’s statement: ‘More individuals are born than can possibly survive’. Believing that does not lessen the pain, but it does nullify guilt. In some small way it makes sense of a senseless occurrence. It has comforted me in the midst of tragedy and near tragedy. I have learned –
Awful occurrences are not done to me. It is not about me.
. . .
BEAUTIFUL EXPRESSIONS of LIFE, DEATH, LOVE …
Dr. Carl Sagan Dedicated “Cosmos” to his wife and sometimes co-author, Ann Druyan:
“In the vastness of space and the immensity of time, it is my joy to share a planet and an epoch with Annie.”
Following the Death of Her Husband Dr. Carl Sagan, Ann Druyan wrote :
“When my husband died, because he was so famous & known for not being a believer, many people would come up to me — it still sometimes happens — & ask me if Carl changed at the end & converted to a belief in an afterlife. They also frequently ask me if I think I will see him again.
Carl faced his death with unflagging courage & never sought refuge in illusions. The tragedy was that we knew we would never see each other again. I don’t ever expect to be reunited with Carl. But, the great thing is that when we were together, for nearly twenty years, we lived with a vivid appreciation of how brief & precious life is. We never trivialized the meaning of death by pretending it was anything other than a final parting. Every single moment that we were alive & we were together was miraculous — not miraculous in the sense of inexplicable or supernatural.
We knew we were beneficiaries of chance… That pure chance could be so generous & so kind… That we could find each other, as Carl wrote so beautifully in Cosmos, you know, in the vastness of space & the immensity of time… That we could be together for twenty years. That is something which sustains me & it’s much more meaningful…
The way he treated me & the way I treated him, the way we took care of each other & our family, while he lived. That is so much more important than the idea I will see him someday. I don’t think I’ll ever see Carl again. But I saw him. We saw each other. We found each other in the cosmos, and that was wonderful.”
April 7, 2013