My wife Susan passed away three years ago today. She died suddenly while I was being treated for my third cancer. I’m still here and she’s not. Go figure.
Why are we mortal—subject to decay, decrepitude and death? In a word, physics.
Flesh and bone are accountable to universal principles like the second law of thermodynamics. Matter and energy can’t be destroyed but neither can they hold the same patterns forever. Everything physical is finite, from planets to people.
But I believe we’re more than mortal, more than the sum of our parts. I believe we’re also spiritual beings with an immaterial self not answerable to physics. That’s why “we struggle to cope with the constraints of our biology, with the limits set by genes and cells and flesh and bone.”
Physics and biology and accident ultimately have their way in our lives. But the point is that we are not helpless either. Courage is the strength to recognize both realities. We have room to act, to shape our stories, though as time goes on it is within narrower and narrower confines. —Atul Gawande
We also have room to hope that death is like the neck of an hourglass, opening into a vast reality not visible from this side.