Friday, January 16, 2009

Death is Natural

Death Is Natural
Lawrence Pringle ~ Four Winds Press, 1977

Please be forewarned, this is going to be a somewhat downer post, but I promise redemption at the end. Those of you who read my other blog know that 2008 was the year of death at my house. First my mother's best friend was murdered, then my mother herself almost died, then my surrogate grandmother passed on. Part of it is unhappy circumstance, and part of it is that with the end of my thirties and the looming shadow of my forties, like my peers, I am faced with more and more death. The irony is, while I am still struggling to understand death and therefore the meaning of life, I am supposed to be able to explain it all to my child. Though I think I'm pretty good with explaining the cosmic ramifications and the achings of the heart, a book like this steps in to help explain how our existence ~ and therefore our death ~ is a natural part of the organic circle of life.

The idea of human extinction is not very pleasant. Humans have existed for four million years so far, a short time compared to dinosaurs or cockroaches. In the long view of the earth's history, however, the death of a species is no more remarkable than the death of one rabbit. Both are natural. Other living things survive, and change. The earth's elements flow on, from one living thing to another. There is beauty, variety, and change, and death helps make it all possible.

This book is stunning in its truth, and I am counting the seconds until my son will be able to grasp the deeper meanings here... when he'll have that "we are all star stuff" moment and feel at one with life and the universe. The story is written for children, and I am hoping that in the next few years, he'll really get into deeper thought like this. When I told him about the possible extinction of human life, he did reply, "Well, at least then we'll know what happened to the dinosaurs." That's a start for sure! (Beware though, there are a few black and white pictures of dead animals and such, so unless your kid is ready for a giant dose of reality, I'd wait a few more years.)

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