May 10, 2007
Quote of the Moment
We are so afraid of the sight of death.
I read a book the other day. It said that as soon as someone dies in a hospital, they pull the sheets up over their head, and they wheel the body to some chute and push it down. They can't wait to get it out of their sight. People act as if death is contagious.
It's not contagious, you know. Death is as natural as life. It's part of the deal we made.
It's natural to die. The fact that we make such a big hullabaloo over it all is because we don't see ourselves as part of nature. We think because we're human we're something above nature.
We're not. Everything that gets born, dies. Do you accept that?
All right. Now here's the payoff. Here is how we are different from those wonderful plants and animals. As long as we can love each other, and remember the feeling of love we had, we can die without ever really going away. All the love you created is still there. All the memories are still there. You live on--in the hearts of everyone you have touched and nurtured while you were here.
Death ends a life, not a relationship.
--Morrie Schwartz, quoted in Mitch Albom's "Tuesdays with Morrie"
I'd previously been exposed to the idea of living on in the community of people you've touched.
My internal scientist would argue about that point with my internal poet, saying that, well what about when all the people you know die? That the best you can hope for is an ever-dispersing circle of influence, the old "ripples in a pond" metaphor. But the poet, no intellectual lightweight, has come up with a new tact; the trick is to look beyond tracking the scope of one individual, but to start considering them as part of a community... even if it's just the ad hoc community of people that individual touched. Then, you can start looking at how that community influences the slightly larger society, the community of communities, so to speak. And so on up the line, like a big fractal.
It's vain, and usually in vain, to just focus on "my influence". You need to take solace in being part of something larger, and thinking in terms of "our influence".
Alright, it might not be the most profound observation you'll read this week, but I was happy to think of it.
Article of the Moment
On Slate, Daniel Gross on Why Bubbles are great for the economy. In short: the money goes out, but the infrastructure remains, plus our system seems to be able to weather these times pretty well. Might be a small consolation if you're burnt by one of these, but still.