As we leave the ghosts of Heathcliff and Catherine to their solitary wanderings on the moors of Wuthering Heights, let’s turn our attention to two remarkable individuals- Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan. Here are their thoughts on life, death, love and the hereafter.
“I would love to believe that when I die I will live again, that some thinking, feeling, remembering part of me will continue. But as much as I want to believe that, and despite the ancient and worldwide cultural traditions that assert an afterlife, I know of nothing to suggest that it is more than wishful thinking.”
— Carl Sagan, The Demon Haunted World
“Contrary to the fantasies of the fundamentalists, there was no deathbed conversion, no last minute refuge taken in a comforting vision of a heaven or an afterlife. For Carl, what mattered most was what was true, not merely what would make us feel better. Even at this moment when anyone would be forgiven for turning away from the reality of our situation, Carl was unflinching. As we looked deeply into each other’s eyes, it was with a shared conviction that our wondrous life together was ending forever.”
— Ann Druyan, Epilogue to Billions and Billions: Thoughts on Life and Death at the Brink of the Millennium
Many people on this planet accept this reality which Carl and Ann shared. If true, then what we share on this planet is truly the briefest of moments. One should never waste these moments of life since they will never come again or be shared in some distant plane of eternity.
The last sentence of Ann’s statement above -”our wondrous life together was ending forever” is so poignant. Carl Sagan said on the Charlie Rose Show in 1996 that he believed death was “a long, dreamless sleep” from which one will never awaken.
Is believing in an afterlife “wishful thinking”? Is death a “long, dreamless sleep”?
Will a “wondrous life” here with your chosen companion end at death? Are Carl and Ann wrong? Or are they so tragically correct?
When you say good-bye to your “wondrous life” on this earth, what do you hope or expect when you open your eyes from death?
Ponderings once more as we close the Saturday evening…
G. D. Williams © 2010