Update: May 2011 – Hey, if you like my writing, you should check out my new website: Sustainable Diversity with fresh new and more in depth material!
Q: What do you think about when you see the picture below?
A: You probably thought of death.
And while this is a graveyard, a sort of place only humans could think of, life is abound within the picture. Not so much in the cornfield in the background and not so much the individual leaves still remaining on the tree. Many of them are also dead, only they don’t get their own stones, why?
Certainly it isn’t because we don’t appreciate the work of the corn or leaf, is it? Well let’s hope not because that corn is probably going to be fed to cows or used to produce a biofuel. Those leaves are going to give nutrients to the soil which will help feed the next round of crops that invariably have human worth. And what are the dead people going to do? Store themselves deep in the Earth where nothing grows in an impenetrable box and have a giant cut stone resting at the surface.
Hardly the most useful dead beings in the picture humans still don’t typically question this ritual (if it is within your culture). However, this entry isn’t about humans, in fact if you’re interested in my beliefs about people, check that link right there. No, this entry isn’t about people, it is in fact about one of the other 3 things that I don’t understand: this entry is about life.(If you are interested in the other two things I don’t understand, check out my entries on people and the Universe.)
Life is prevalant in the above picture but since people are always so centered around the topic of people, the life in the above picture probably never crossed your mind. As far as the camera can see there is an abundance of alive, yet very thirsty (or perhaps dying), grass. Out of the cameras view or perhaps too small for the camera to see are the small birds potentially in that tree (and if not, they aren’t far off), the worms digging through the ground, the insects making their way across a steppe of everlasting trim grass.
Yet death plays an important role with life because it is the concept that meets every body and thing that reaches the end of their journey in life. There are no surprises here. As kind and giving or as cruel and cold life may have treated us for any variety of reasons we reach the bitter end to find Death awaiting to collect our souls and, truth be told, nobody knows where the journey goes after that.
And this is why we fear Death. He’s exactly the type of guy who will come up to a tiny bunny in the middle of the frozen woods and relieve the tiny bunny from life and even refuse him the decency of telling the bunny where he’ll be sent! So people have some theories about this: Some people think it’ll go to bunny-heaven, others think it’ll not go to any heaven because it’s not as important as a human, still others think the bunny will just cease to exist in any living form period… NO heaven… NO nothing!
But the reality upon reality is we have no damn clue WHAT is going to happen to that bunny when it dies. Hell, nobody knows whats going to happen to themselves when they die. Sure you’ll hear theory after theory, but in the end there is just no damn proof exactly what happens to any given living individual. There is a tree in California that is approaching 5,000 years old. Forget the advent of electricity, the “discovery” of America, the middle ages, the Roman Empire, Jesus, the Shang Dynasty… no, this tree was alive when hieroglyphics was in style! And do you think this tree knows what happens to it when it dies? Well if it does it’s certainly not going to tell any of us, but I’m still going to go out on a limb here (pun intended!) and suggest that the tree does not have an idea what will happen to it when it dies. Yet from the moment we’re born, even from the moment we’re conceived, death lurks behind every corner, waits at the bottom of every slippery staircase, in the no-mans-land in Western Sahara, in the nearest nuclear reactor, and even inside other life forms!
So naturally the question arises: Why is there life? If every last one of us are germinated or born or whatever ONLY to have a stalker that wants to remove us at some point in some fashion, be it cruel or merciful (but always 100% accurate), why are we even born in the first place? Why not just not exist and save everyone the trouble?
Immediately at this point Religion obnoxiously bounds to the foreground and like an obedient dog propounding out-dated, loosely interpreted, largely unreliable, separate context, ambiguous, tedious, and questionable messages that are supposed to fill our lives with meaning. I will not go in to why that is, that is once again more discussed in my article on people. However Religion often does not match up with what many people would agree to be an ideal world. Religion has probably shed the most blood and committed the most torture out of any other human concept. So what can we turn to for answers? Is religion totally wrong? That’s a bold claim to make. However I suggest we really open our eyes and realize where we are in the Universe. The Universe is a vast, empty, space with just a sneezeful of matter sailing through the Universe. And on most of that matter, as far as we know, is not filled with life.
Yet there is one planet we know that is like a round ball of rotting bread… teeming with life. Every DAY we are confronted by the miracle of life the minute you confront another person or step outside or water a plant. People take life for granted so easily that they rarely consider how important it is both mentally and physically to them every day.
I don’t have the article on me, but you can take it from me it’s true, it has been found that when astronauts garden when up in space for long periods of time it tends to relax them. People are so desperate and needy for life that even if we could somehow survive in space we couldn’t do it alone for long. Nature relaxes us. Animals adore us. Life is most definitely essential especially because we, humans, are in the gang of life! But the question slowly creeps back, again and again, like a cockroach just out of stomping range, why is there life?
My answer? I don’t have a God damn clue. That is why it is one of the 3 things I don’t understand…
What I do understand is that doesn’t mean we’re totally screwed on figuring out some important things about it. Sometimes its hard to talk about the importance of life because some narrow minded people will quickly lump you in to some “environmentalist” category as if the environment didn’t apply to us all. The facts are we as people can not survive without life and it is also the very driving force behind everything we think we are and everything we think we know.Life should be upheld with the most sobering of importance. Yet we are a species of harvesters and it is hard to look humanely at our resources, it is easier to think of them as not alive, as if they are absolutely nothing like us.
But we aren’t going to be those kind of guys! We’re going to rationally acknowledge the importance of life, the implications of removing life, and delve in to the history of life all to help understand why life is so important. Why it’s worth delaying the enemy (In many cultures Death is not the enemy). Even questioning if Death is an enemy. Questions I plan to be focusing this site around in terms of life is the following:
What is the importance to life?
What does religion have to do with life?
Why is life sentient as opposed to inert like everything else in the Universe?
What are we (the living) reacting to in order to make each of us the way we are?
Can life forms communicate with other life forms that aren’t from the same species? (I say obviously yes, but how much is the real question)
Are we as people not communicating with other life forms as well as most other life forms due to our hubris?
What is life in relationship to death?
Where is life appreciated?
Where is life not appreciated?
What knowledge can we gain from that?
What is going on with the study of manipulating life as in biogenetics?
How does not knowing the purpose of it effect what we do?
…And other similar questions. It is important to recap what I’ve reiterated in my other initial entries. Life, People, and the Universe are the 3 things I don’t understand. Each one poses some serious questions that I am interested in answering, however they are all inter-related and act on each other. Life comes from the Universe which people are subject to both of their laws, while life is only subject to the laws of the Universe (however one can now make the argument of humans making laws for life now too with biogenetics). Each of the three things has some unique characteristics that make it enigmatic and important to think about. It’s important to take these concepts slowly and compile thoughts on individual topics to perhaps recognize a pattern with any of it.
So maybe we can put the ego away for a little bit. Maybe thinking about life isn’t about being a hippie or environmentalist or a pussy, maybe it will actually make you think a little bit before you act in this increasingly whimsy world. Being from the United States many of my point of views will come from that background, but much of the Western and many times still the Eastern world still apply to things I’ll be talking about. Indeed, I am speaking as best I can on a global level, while some things might not be as far reaching. I’m talking about hopefully learning some truths of the Earth, figured by reasoning.
Now maybe you can think a little bit, what do you think about life?
What do they think about life?