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The day I learned I would die
A letter from the future by Shia Santos
Human Island | Letter from the future
The day I learned I would die
Server: The Deep Dive Date: 3613-09-23 Timestamp: 12:06:33 PM Memory log of: Shia Santos Entry no.: 1.1.01
There is a rhythm to time.
There is a rhythm to nature.
The rising and falling of the waves.
The growing and harvesting of seaweed.
There’s a beginning and an end for everything. And then a new beginning…
Nothing dies. There are stages of transformation.
One day, the form holding these cells together will no longer be.
But what I am made of will be forever. These molecules of water. These atoms of carbon and nutrient… nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, calcium and magnesium. I will dissipate into billions and billions of atoms, evaporate into the air, sip into the earth, fly with the wind, and be absorbed atom by atom into other forms of life, my recyclable building blocks eternally free.
Matter is immortal, perpetually in circulation.
Only the ego is mortal. Only the I temporary. Wanting to hold on to a shape and not being able to.
The day I learned I would die, I knew I was immortal. Transforming. A shape-changer. A shape-shifter. The collection of atoms I call I today will be the building blocks of countless other creatures.
Ever expanding. Ever contracting.
In. Out. Out. In.
The one will be many, and the many will be one. Existing and non-existing. The cannibalism of life.
The day I learned I would die, I knew I would be eaten into becoming other forms of life. It will be a deconstruction of the self and a reconstruction of the many.
I will be taken, and I will give.
I will be consumed, and I will feed.
I will die, and I will give birth.
The cycle of life. Ever turning. Ever joyful. Ever in harmony.
A coming and going. A gathering and a letting go. A being and a non-being.
Blinking into existence. Eternally grateful. Eternally being alive.
The memory of me pulsating in every atom and water molecule binding and unbinding from my body. With every bit of skin growing and shedding. With every strand of hair. With every breath.
The day I learned I would die, I knew I was me, but I was also you. I was one. And I was many. The whole universe opened before me in the blink of an eye.
The day I learned I would die, I knew it was of my own choosing. And at the same time, it was not.
Dying is the way of life.
Living is the way of death.
What passes into inexistence is a form, identity, constellation of atoms, collection of memories, learnings, perceptions, and feelings.
I was ready to let them go.
I was prepared to shed my ego.
You might ask yourself how can a 15-year-old girl have so much wisdom.
And I ask you: How can she not?
Being so close to birth, I understand death. Having just come into being, I am still close to non-being. Knowing I am just forming, I am comfortable letting go.
I am a snapshot of time. The record of an existence.
Everything else will be gone, metamorphosed. It will hatch out of the cocoon of my body and turn into countless butterflies.
I am the blueprint of a constellation of atoms and molecules held together by finite time.
We are myriad blueprints. A living museum of the experiences of matter forming and transforming. Snapshots of existence. A tribute to the creative power of the universe.
The day I knew I would die, I didn’t know that even this I would one day be eternal.
A recording in a cloud museum.
Reminiscing about being alive. Being human.
Feeling the wind in my hair, the sun on my skin, the breath in my lungs. Touching and being touched.
All those memories. Filling up my non-existent chest with joy and sorrow, tears and laughter. The snapshot of a singular existence. Never to return. Still wondering what brought those atoms together to create me, that shape, those thoughts, those eyes, those ears, that mouth, that skin, that brain, that perception.
What was I?
What was me?
Thank you for listening to the first entry in my memory log. My name is Shia Santos, and I was the first consciousness uploaded to The Museum of Life precisely 1,000 years ago at the age of 78. My husband, Lucius and our daughters, Deya and Sayuri, are also here with me, and you will get to know them as you continue to experience my log entries. When I started this museum, I wished to preserve the human minds that cross in and out of existence. I hope that you will enjoy my curated collection of lives.
I’m reading a book titled Ecological Imaginations in the World Religions by Toni Watling, an ethnographic work exploring ecological themes and possibilities in the main world religions. The chapters on Jainism and Daosim inspired Shia’s log entry.
With this short story and, in general, with my collection of linked climate fiction stories, There Is Hope, I wish to rekindle a lost sense of wonder and respect for the natural world and underline its importance for our survival as a species. We cannot fight the climate and ecological crisis without shifting from a human-centered to an earth-centered worldview. However, as a mythopoetic species, we can re-create our conceptions of nature to evoke and inspire an ecological instead of a technological way of life.
As always, your feedback is highly appreciated. Please leave a note with your thoughts and impressions.