What A Quote About Death Taught Me About Life

And why you might want a physicist to speak at your funeral

A few years ago, I stumbled across this post on a forum that was talking about the best way to find closure following the death of a loved one.

I only read it once or twice, at the time, but I realized recently that it pops into my head every so often when I think about the way I view my life.

I’ll let you go ahead and read it before I continue on — It’s a rather long one, but it’s worth every second of your attention, I promise:

“You want a physicist to speak at your funeral. You want the physicist to talk to your grieving family about the conservation of energy, so they will understand that your energy has not died. You want the physicist to remind your sobbing mother about the first law of thermodynamics; that no energy gets created in the universe, and none is destroyed. You want your mother to know that all your energy, every vibration, every Btu of heat, every wave of every particle that was her beloved child remains with her in this world. You want the physicist to tell your weeping father that amid energies of the cosmos, you gave as good as you got.

And at one point you’d hope that the physicist would step down from the pulpit and walk to your brokenhearted spouse there in the pew and tell him that all the photons that ever bounced off your face, all the particles whose paths were interrupted by your smile, by the touch of your hair, hundreds of trillions of particles, have raced off like children, their ways forever changed by you. And as your widow rocks in the arms of a loving family, may the physicist let her know that all the photons that bounced from you were gathered in the particle detectors that are her eyes, that those photons created within her constellations of electromagnetically charged neurons whose energy will go on forever.

And the physicist will remind the congregation of how much of all our energy is given off as heat. There may be a few fanning themselves with their programs as he says it. And he will tell them that the warmth that flowed through you in life is still here, still part of all that we are, even as we who mourn continue the heat of our own lives.

And you’ll want the physicist to explain to those who loved you that they need not have faith; indeed, they should not have faith. Let them know that they can measure, that scientists have measured precisely the conservation of energy and found it accurate, verifiable and consistent across space and time. You can hope your family will examine the evidence and satisfy themselves that the science is sound and that they’ll be comforted to know your energy’s still around. According to the law of the conservation of energy, not a bit of you is gone; you’re just less orderly. Amen.” — Aaron Freeman

Perhaps you can already see why I love it so absolutely, but I’ll tell you three reasons why, nonetheless.

Energy

Energy cannot be created nor destroyed — it’s one of the very first things we learned about in science class.

Even just the word “energy” possesses this mystical quality to me. You can’t always see it, or feel it, but it’s there, and just like a thunderous bolt of lightning as it strikes the earth, or the ultraviolet strobe of nightclub dance-floor, you, too, are made of this magic.

Indeed, it brings me a peace, of sorts, to remember that we’re all just orbs of organized energy trying to do our best in this life, but it also reminds me to use my power for good, while I have it.

I want to be the candle that lights other flames, the current that jumpstarts an engine, and the vibration that sends chills through the body of someone I love.

I have a desire to be good; the type of energy that glows bright white and illuminates even the darkest of rooms. If my energy cannot be created nor destroyed, then I want it to be magnificent, for my existence in this life to be defined by the sum of my positive action.

This quote about death reminds me how I want to live.

Heat

The thing about fire, is that it’s not a thing at all, it’s an event. The occurrence of oxygen combining with a chemical matter to make a blaze — it’s untamed, unpredictable, and unsafe — and heat is just the result.

Well, not unlike the heat from a fire, I want to affect every substance in the universe, my rays occupying all parts of space.

I wish to be bold, and expansive, and hot. I seek to draw people towards me, like moths to a light, and set fire to the ground at my feet, like the sun through a magnifying glass, in the summer.

I want to experience the danger that comes with leaving the warmth of my comfort zone, only to chase the fever of my passions in this fleeting life.

This quote about death reminds me how I can feel alive.

Disorder

Just as the increasingly entropy of the universe will continue to do so until it reaches a maximum equilibrium and leads to the ultimate and irreversible death of the universe — I, too, will, one day, reach the end of my life.

I will let go of every one of my memories as I have lived them, and I will die with precisely none of the answers to life’s greatest questions. I will not take with me my face, my friends, or my clothes, and I will be dispersed throughout time and space as particles of a bigger picture.

There is solace to be found, for me at least, through the acceptance of this paradoxical existence, in all it’s disorder, and chaos, and calamity.

The sheer coincidence of this reality, itself, is far too unlikely to make any sense in my head, and there is no part of me that does not feel utterly favoured by the universe for being given the opportunity to exist.

This quote about death reminds me how very much I appreciate life.

Alexandra Walker-Jones — October 2020

Writer and published author with an international background in psychology, nutrition, and creative writing. I’m just here to learn ;) awalkerjones.com

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