This post is more personal and has little to do with photography. For those here for just photography related subjects you may safely skip it.
Death is the one thing that I think defines humanity more than any other. Alone among the inhabitants of our planet we are aware of our own mortality. Animals feel fear of the things such as predators that may hurt or kill them, but only humanity is aware that we will never avoid every ill and someday we will die.
The reason that I think death defines us is because much of what we do is a degree a defiance of the inevitability of it. We know that we cannot live forever, but we insist on creating, learning, and building. We build friendships and love each other though we know that some day the loss of some of those we care for will leave us with an absence and the pain that comes from knowing a part of our life is now gone forever. We know that the joys of the time we have together will more than compensate for the loss we may someday feel.
We also strive against this inevitability by creation. People have children in part as a way to pass part of themselves on to the future. Most of us try to leave the world improved in our time on it so that those who come after we are gone will benefit from the work we’ve done. Artists create works of art do try to capture the world as it is or how we wish it to be for the future. We all wish to leave something behind when we pass on as a marker on the world that we existed and that our time here mattered. My personal photography is partly an attempt to capture the vitality and beauty of life knowing that it is a precious gift that should be cherished.
An uncle passed away a few days ago and I write this after attending his funeral earlier tonight. He was a good man and lived a long and good life. The funeral home was filled with his family, friends, and the friends of his children and grandchildren tonight. When I say it was filled, I do mean that almost the entire chapel was full. In the end that is perhaps the best indicator of the value of a life.
I grew up very religious, but have lost some of my faith through the slings and briars of life. I still believe that something awaits us beyond this life and do believe that he is in a better place beyond the pain and suffering of life. That said, I think when one is gone and is missed and loved and remembered in the hearts of those he touched in life, then one has truly cheated death by living on with those who remain.
So to my uncle I big a fond adieu and the thanks that I had the chance to know him in this life. I also have the knowledge that I am a better person for having him in my family and knowing him.