Sunday, April 9, 2017

Our Glorious Afterlives

This morning Lynnette watched some video clips from yesterday's Mormon Transhumanist Conference. What?! I had no idea there was such a Mormon group, or that they did a full conference, much less that they've been organized for over a decade. She may only have listened because her cousin George Handley was one of the speakers, but the whole thing generated some good conversation and thoughts.

Many of their links discuss The Afterlife. It's such an emphasis for so many people and cultures, so I wanted to point out some of the great parts of life that we have even if there is no life after death... things that motivate me, and whose importance aren't appreciated enough.

What persists after we die?

Firstly, there are things that are first-hand impressions of our fundamental selves, which continue to affect other people directly. Many of my emotions are consequences of growing up with a loving father and mother, and I hope I'm nurturing the "good" emotions and growing them in my family and further. Beyond that, our actions are typically modelled on what we've experienced from others.  Less spontaneous are the memories of experiences, including feelings or pictures in our mind's eyes. Then there are the life lessons and concepts that impressed us... thoughts that were verbalized or somehow taught directly to our thinking minds.

I often give thanks for my father's persistent, hard-working, optimistic example. And every once in a while I remember my grandfather's character: his body was twisted and painful, but he was always positive when I saw him. I remember him showing us with pride his tiny garden and how he adapted his hoe so he could actually hold it and work the hard ground; I don't know how much it has affected my psyche, but there is en effect there that has lasted long past his death.

Secondly, there are physical artifacts that we generate that can be shared and copied and passed around to affect other people; that obviously includes electronic items. We live on people's minds from the recorded sights and sounds made of us. We create art such as writing and architecture and film, down to how we decorate our homes and including group creations. I include technological advancements in that category. We record factual historical informatlon as well, and those can even serve as inspiration besides being educational. We may make discoveries that do nothing more than advance knowledge, but which change behaviors of societies.

All those physical items have potential intangible effects, so that our personal influence could be shared and even magnified.

I enjoy the stories of my ancestors. I'm lucky to have writings from the past few hundred years of American pioneers with fantastic stories; it's inspiring knowing that those are lives and experiences that directly affected all my lineage.

Finally, although I consider those immaterial aspects to be the most significant, there are many other physical artifacts that leave a tangible mark on the world: the clothing and shelter that protect, and even the food that nurtures and the fuel that energizes.

My mother consistently fed us meals of vegetables, homemade wheat bread (where she ground the wheat), and other good food.  I attribute much of my health today to many years of investment into our physical care.  My dad did his best to care for our homes and yards, and I'm sure people are still benefiting from his work.

All these are things we can leave that will have an effect for years or decades or even centuries to come. True, they are mingled with the afterglow from many other people, but we're contributing... and maybe our part is enough to make a significant difference. Many heros and charismatic figures are lauded repeatedly over time, but I feel that the repeated, small nudges (especially by parents) by multitudes of people over time are the things that advance society and well-being in the world.

The one unfortunate aspect of all this is that we may not experience any of it... death might be the end of that. But why focus on that? There is so much of our own majesty that carry on in all these aspects of life.

Monday, June 24, 2013

A Nephew's Vote of Confidence

My nephew Andrew said this on his way home from our family party on Saturday:

"I want to go to three places, the museum, the library, and Trent's house."


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Farewell Party

Tonight was that party for us over at the church.  I'm still having a hard time believing it... all those people (dozens!) that came just because we're leaving.  (Of course Lynnette loved it; I try talking with people but it's just never natural.)  Wow.  Of course, people said nice things... they had to... all except Rex Marshall who was brutally honest... he's a funny man... but really, these genuinely good people spent their time there because of us.  But I guess the food didn't hurt.


Sunday, November 6, 2011

Unseen Kindness

Yesterday all the kids had a great time: they all went out with friends, Olivia to go shopping and everyone else to go sledding.  But the great thing about it all was what I understood after they got home:

  • Olivia was invited out by a girl at her school.  As you may know, Olivia is mentally handicapped, so the fact that they did this is a real testament to their character... and it provides a great memory to Olivia who is extremely happy to have gone to the ballet, to McDonald's, and shopping together with someone.
  • Ella took Thomas with her because her friend has a little sister for him to play with.  That was nice to see, but what was cool for them was the kindness of her friend's mom, who fed them hot chocolate and pizza and chips.
I didn't see any of this, but that makes it all the more valuable.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Kids Are Playing Together

We got a trampoline yesterday.  It rained this morning, and it's a bit cold, but that's not stopping the kids from playing on it.  But the greatest thing is that the three of them (Ella, Tolman, and Thomas) are all laughing and playing well together.  It's been about 15 minutes and they haven't argued yet!

It's incredibly satisfying to watch.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Interactive TV

Last night, PBS aired the Nova show "Making Stuff: Cleaner".  The ads for these Nova shows looked interesting, with some technology journalist doing a colorful tour through some new developments; other editions were entitled "Stronger", "Smaller", and "Smarter."  I don't really watch TV, I thought the boys might enjoy these.

So, after their bedtime at eight o'clock, I invited them in to watch.  Tolman, age 9, is always interested in new stuff, so I figured it would hold his attention; Thomas, age 6, was a bit more questionable... would he actually stay and watch, or would he wander off or even distract us by trying to do something else?

It was fantastic.  They would comment and ask questions from time to time; I hate that when watching movies, but this was exactly what I was hoping for.  Halfway through, Thomas got a little blanket to cover himself and get comfortable, and Tolman joined us on the couch.  They asked if we had any solar panels; Tolman's favorite parts involved the expanding foam made of food, the time-lapse decaying strawberries, and the way they processed "peas" (actually wheat) into plastic-like car parts.

And afterward, they went to right to their beds.  Tolman asked if I knew that the sun is 93,000,000 miles from the earth and the moon is 250,000 miles away; he's into details like that.  Then they both quietly read their books.  Aaaaah.  Now that's a good night.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Fresh Air and Conversation

Yesterday was Sunday, and I planned to do some of my own thing, but I wanted to at least show a little effort at being with the kids, so I did take a bit of time with each of them.  (This is my weekly program of spending time about 30 minutes with each of them on Sunday.)  I threw a bouncy ball with Thomas, but made it short.  Then I went with Tolman out to his tree-house (actually a tree-platform right now); he likes to talk, and I mostly just listen.  I actually ended up taking half-an-hour with him; I think being outside did me some good.  Then I went in and woke up Ella who was still in bed; we talked for just a minute, and that was that.  I also sat by Olivia for a minute and we reviewed the calendar for this week since she likes to know what's going on so she can remind us ad nauseum.

I ended up getting nothing of my own done.

So I'm sitting here reminiscing, and I realized what an accomplishment that was: to have a teen do nothing but lie in bed and talk with me is something I've got to appreciate.  :-)  I don't remember many specifics, but I believe the pleasant attitude of the day will linger somewhere in our memories for a while to come.