Love Story

“When my husband died, because he was so famous and known for not being a believer, many people would come up to me — it still sometimes happens — and ask me if Carl changed at the end & converted to a belief in an afterlife. They also frequently ask me if I think I will see him again.

Carl faced his death with unflagging courage and never sought refuge in illusions. The tragedy was that we knew we would never see each other again. I don’t ever expect to be reunited with Carl. But, the great thing is that when we were together, for nearly twenty years, we lived with a vivid appreciation of how brief and precious life is. We never trivialized the meaning of death by pretending it was anything other than a final parting. Every single moment that we were alive and we were together was miraculous – not miraculous in the sense of inexplicable or supernatural. We knew we were beneficiaries of chance… That pure chance could be so generous and so kind… That we could find each other, as Carl wrote so beautifully in Cosmos, you know, in the vastness of space and the immensity of time… That we could be together for twenty years. That is something which sustains me and it’s much more meaningful…

The way he treated me and the way I treated him, the way we took care of each other and our family, while he lived. That is so much more important than the idea I will see him someday. I don’t think I’ll ever see Carl again. But I saw him. We saw each other. We found each other in the cosmos, and that was wonderful.”

Ann Druyan, about her husband Carl Sagan

 

Carl Sagan

On this day in 1996 one of the greatest communicators of science passed away. Not only was he a great communicator of science but he refused to allow the subjects he talked about to be divorced from the social context in which science ‘happens’. This is extremely clear in his book The Pale Blue Dot in which he talks about capturing an image of the planet Earth, our home, from millions of miles away and what that image means.

A pertinent message and one so needed now as it was when he wrote that book. Nationalism, racism sexism and all things that seek to separate and weaken us are absurd when seen on the real, cosmic scale. After all what matter where you were born, why is being born in the UK, or anywhere else for that matter, something special? What is truly special is that the atoms that make up your body were fused in the heart of a star that then exploded seeding the building blocks of life into the universe. And the same is true for every single being on this planet, for the planet itself, and for all matter in the universe. Now that’s special and it unites us all.