Since the beginning of this speech season, I have been haunted (in a good way) by one of my student’s speeches. One line in particular could be the most powerful quote I have ever heard.
It goes something like this, “Death is the single greatest invention of life.”
This sentiment was spoken during a commencement speech by Steve Jobs a year after he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
It is powerful in a way that is hard to explain. Death is inevitable. It is inescapable. It is both feared and revered. Every culture, every generation, and every individual has different thoughts, feelings, and traditions surrounding it.
As hard as death is to experience, whether a pet or the impending loss of a loved one, I choose to look at death as the beginning. As a celebration of what was and what is to come. Not as a replacement, but as an addition.
In my experience, every life cycle ends and begins with renewal.
Just for fun, I challenged myself to engage with the world around me and really see the value of Steve Jobs’ statement. Here’s what I found:
- snowflakes melting to water in the spring thaw creating life-giving moisture
- purging flooded basements after that life-giving moisture seeps inside, making way for a clean space and the storage of new memories
- weeding out old books on the bookshelf to make way for the new ones
- Jesus’ death making way for eternal life
- the seeding of flowers, the loss of leaves, the death of a plant to regenerate and bloom into something once again beautiful
- new babies born on the knees of grandparents and the passage of wisdom from one to another to make each generation stronger
Death surrounds us, but so does life. Or rather, life surrounds us because of the contributions of death.
In this season of rebirth, I am planning to reread From Here to Eternity: Traveling the World to Find the Good Death. This beautifully appointed book takes readers on a journey across the globe to discover the rituals surrounding the greatest invention of life.
I challenge you, dear readers, to look at the world around you and discover all the joys of making way for the new. To delight in the mess of spring and consider the opportunities it provides in the days to come.
happy reading~ Jody