Friday, February 4, 2011

The Cycle of Life

In our daily walks on the beach, Alma and I see such a profusion of animal life forms -- marine, avian, canine and the occasional feline -- that it becomes easy to forget that there is a cycle of life. The visual reminders lie all around us though, from broken sea shells and dead seaweed to the occasional dead manta ray or sea gull.

I know that death forms part of the natural cycle of life and that all living things must eventually perish. But I also wonder whether the enormous amounts of garbage and waste that humans generate and that make their ways into our oceans don't contribute in significant fashion to an acceleration of the deaths that would occur naturally. When I come across a sea gull lieing dead on the sand as in the picture above, I do have to wonder whether it expired of truly natural causes or whether the causes were, shall we say, man made.

One peril of living in such a specialized, technocratic age is that, while I may suspect that man contributes to the death of marine species or a specific animal, I am not a marine scientist and have no way to ascertain whether my suspicions have merit. Oh sure, I could go on the internet and enter the Tower of Babel of conflicting voices as to man's effect upon nature (akin to the debate over global warming). But I would emerge from the babble more aware of the debate but with no surer sense of the truth. Likewise, I could go back to school to learn more about the topic of Marine Biology. But this subject is not my passion, more a passing fancy, an idle speculation.

But the questions these vistas inspire are neither idle nor insignificant: What sort of world do we want to leave for our children and grandchildren? What obligation do we owe the other species that we co-inhabit the earth with? Should we leave a small footprint and, if so, how do we leave the smallest footprint possible?  When one is alone with one's thoughts at the beach, these questions invariably come up, even if answers to them remain elusive.

One of the stranger vistas we see while walking on the beach is roses -- either singly or in bunches -- laid out on the sand. Often the roses appear in pristine condition as though they have come straight from the florist. And indeed they may have. It happens that some people choose to have their funerals at the beach and these roses remain from the ceremonies.

Just this week, we have come across a profusion of roses laid out on the sand. Alma took many pictures, a few of which I have included below.

I consider myself pretty much a through-and-through materialist and do not place much stock in the spiritual. But when I am at the beach, I find myself in the presence of the magisterial and it reminds me of my utter and complete insignificance in the cosmos. So when I die, I can think of no more fitting way to mark my brief time upon this planet than for my physical remains to be cremated, my ashes scattered among the waves and sand and a flower or two to be left on the sand to mark my passing. There are far worse ways to go. And I will be dead so it won't much matter to me.

1 comment:

  1. Honey, I can can think of no more poetic way to use my photos than this blog today. It has easily been one of your most touching, and I too have a passing thought while at the beach about our deaths and how fitting it would be as our final resting place. I only hope that it will be with the beautiful seagulls, fish, sandpipers, manta rays, anenomes, starfish and crustasians that we rest and not a big pile of garbage.