The ocean abyss is truly our last frontier outside of space.
From a tombstone in Tasmania, Australia (presumably):
Stop ye travelers as you pass by
As you are now, so once was I
As I am now, soon you shall be
Prepare yourself to follow me.
To which the following response was written in graffiti:
To follow you
I am not content —
How do I know
which way you went?
When my husband died, because he was so famous and known for not being a believer, many people would come up to me — it still sometimes happens — and ask me if Carl changed at the end and 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 and 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 and 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 and 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 and so kind…That we could find each other, as Carl wrote so beautifully in Cosmos, you know, in the vastness of space and 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.
Ann Druyan, on her husband, Carl Sagan.
Throughout life, we constantly narrate, or commentate on, everything we do, say, see, touch, smell, taste, and hear. As natural storytellers, we continuously keep the plot moving forward, sometimes missing millions of subplots that are developing on their own. It is like taking a sip of wine and saying, “It’s a bit dry; it has definitely aged well, but I can taste the bark. I’ve had better.” Instead of simply experiencing the joy and flavors of the wine, we are analyzing the flavor, trying to break it down and fit it into a context and language we already know. In doing this, we miss out on much of the actual experience.
Miguel Ruiz, Are You Using Knowledge, or Is Knowledge Using You?
It’s been calculated that the total number of humans that have ever lived was around 107 billion. Therefore, those of us reading this post represent an incredibly miniscule fraction of our species that is literate, relatively well-off, and most likely to live a long and comfortable life, comparatively-speaking. By a mere accident of birth, we’re exceptionally lucky. We know and enjoy things that most humans never had the chance to, and that the overwhelming majority of our species still remains without.
In childhood we are inculcated in culture through a long period of dependency—far longer than any other animal. During this period we learn language, writing, math, and reasoning skills, along with a few others. Much of this happens under the watchful and loving guidance of parents and teachers. As we get older, greater emphasis is placed on book learning—absorbing as much information as possible about various subjects. Such knowledge of history, science, or literature is abstract, and the process of learning largely involves passive absorption. At the end of this process (usually somewhere between the ages of eighteen and twenty-five) we are then thrust into the cold, harsh work world to fend for ourselves.
When we emerge from the youthful state of dependency, we are not really ready to handle the transition to an entirely independent phase. We carry with us the habit of learning from books or teachers, which is largely unsuited for the practical, self-directed phase of life that comes next. We tend to be somewhat socially naïve and unprepared for the political games people play. Still uncertain as to our identity, we think that what matters in the work world is gaining attention and making friends. And these misconceptions and naïveté are brutally exposed in the light of the real world.
Robert Greene, Mastery (via ludimagister)
Here are the top five regrets of the dying, as witnessed by Australian nurse Bronnie Ware, who spent over a decade caring for the dying.
1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
“This was the most common regret of all. When people realise that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honoured even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made. Health brings a freedom very few realise, until they no longer have it.”
2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.
“This came from every male patient that I nursed. They missed their children’s youth and their partner’s companionship. Women also spoke of this regret, but as most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners. All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence.”
3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
“Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result.”
4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
“Often they would not truly realise the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks and it was not always possible to track them down. Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years. There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort that they deserved. Everyone misses their friends when they are dying.”
5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.
“This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realise until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called ‘comfort’ of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content, when deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again.”
Considering how long people are living nowadays, it seems patently absurd to expect teens and young adults to already know what they want to do with the rest of their lives.
On average, the typical young person may have anywhere from 60 to 70 years ahead of them, and there’s no telling what will come their way - changing circumstances, epiphanies, new job markets, etc. Why should they be pressured to have everything planned out so quickly for so long? And why should they have to know at a time when they’re still growing and learning?
The world is more complex than ever, and this combined with our longevity, has given us a wider period of time with which to reflect, learn, and explore. If we jump the gun into whatever job will suit our parents, community, or wider-society, we risk wasting a lot of time, money and energy.
Thus, I think it’s better to promote more freedom to wait and choose. We’re among the few humans in history with the luxury of a long, healthy life full of opportunity (even in light of woeful economic conditions). Why squander this gift with dated and structured life plans?
For the record, I’ve got nothing against those who already know what they want to do and when they want to do it, even from a young age. Indeed, I’m one of those people. But not everyone works that way, and that’s my larger point.
Barring some obvious exceptions, I don’t think there is a universal right or wrong way to go about finding yourself and what you want to do. We all move at different paces, for different reasons. We all think distinctly and are shaped by unique conditions and circumstances. Expecting us to conform to a set standard sounds nice from a practical point of view, but it goes against the nature of our species, both individually and socially.
But maybe I’m being too idealistic. Indeed, this was sort of a stream-of-consciousness on my part, so I likely missed something. What do you all think?
The incessantly ringing phones, and the realization that someone is desperately trying to reach someone else who is now dead, short-circuits the psychological defenses first responders need to do their jobs, said Jim Crabtree, a registered nurse who helps train them for the Los Angeles County Emergency Management Services Agency.
“It starts ringing and it becomes an instant reminder that this person is human, that they have friends and family who care,” he said.
It also leaves responders with an uneasy feeling they’re keeping a secret from the victim’s loved ones, Crabtree said.
Crabtree first ran across the issue following the Virginia Tech shooting, in which a lone gunman, a student, killed 32 people.
Some first responders couldn’t get the sound of ringing cell phones out of their ears, psychologists Christopher Flynn of Virginia Tech and Dennis Heitzmann of Penn State wrote in a follow up journal article.
“As police and rescue workers removed the bodies of the deceased and evacuated the survivors, they reported haunting memories of cell phones ringing in body bags as parents and friends desperately called their loved ones.”
An Australian PSA with a great message.
A homeless man raises money through begging to help a fellow homeless person. He raised $9,000.