The Tree of Life – Whatever Happens To A Leaf

When I wrote the poem “Whatever Happens to a Leaf” in 1999 there lay within it the core of my philosophy of life and death. If the context of the scientific notion that we are but born of dead stars from the ashes and dust of an extreme unbridled supernova, my leaf analogy of what happens to humans when they die simplifies the question so often asked of me, “What happens to us when we die.” My answer, troubling to many, accepting by some, is “What ever happens to a leaf when it falls from the tree is the same thing that happens to you and me.”Our existence is coexistent with the leaves on the trees, as we are with all living things. The evolutionary trek that brought us to the very day you read these words is the same chain from the branches of evolutionary life we clung to from our earliest days and which we cling to still.

Yet there is to this day a socialized deliberate denial of our material being among a majority of us that has controlled the behavior and laws of humankind for too many generations. These same controllers have declared humanity immune from death by ascribing for themselves an afterlife. And, whether it be a physical or spiritual afterlife it is usually thought of as unique to humans. The upshot is that since humans give themselves a means to beat death, there is a strong propensity among many humans to have a callous regard for any other life form. It is evident all around us. The destruction of the habitats on land and in water of tens of thousands of species to make room for human personal needs is long documented. But the sickest part of this documentation is what humans do to each other. The fast trigger of death is so readily used against our own kind that societies have made it a game of big business from wholesale war to violence in our media, our homes and on our streets. Challenge any media outlet, in print or on the screen, to remove even the slightest vestige of gratuitous death and violence. Ha! Don’t waste your time. “If it bleeds it leads” and it always will. As many people self-describe as god-fearing creatures one would think that The House of God was, in fact, The Slaughter House of God.

Despite our truly humble beginnings we have separated ourselves from all other species of planetary life by thinking of Earth, as we call it, our domain. Within that human domain we fuel our vivid imagination to create and claim beliefs for ourselves which exist only in our own minds. Once the imagined claim is created we then apply it to the world at large in any cog we choose to place it. Those internalized creations of our minds create havoc with the reality around us, for us and many other living things.

Is it paradoxical that no matter how high we elevate ourselves, always waiting for us, well within the true accordance of reality, is the common death that comes to all? Is our reward merely a death that is useless to our acquired aspirations of beliefs and self-interests that are continuously tempered and steeled by human fear, ignorance, superstition and greed?

Here each of us stand, naked and cold, without the proven hands-on guarantee that a separate but distinct spiritual clone of ourselves carries us over and beyond our physical life. There must, indeed, be true poetic justice in a reality where we are nothing but water-based electrified chemical atoms doomed to die the same desolate, barren death that happens to a lone leaf when it falls from the tree of life.

~Vidda Crochetta

Comments | 5

  • Achilles Heeled

    As readers of this site know, I’ve been thinking about Mayflies lately. When you see them referenced in popular culture, they are often spoken about with sighs, and pity over their ‘tiny’ lifespans. But when we speak of Day Lilies, do we generally mourn them in the same way? I know I don’t. Why? I’m not sure. If pressed I can come up with some blather about perennials, or creaturely affinities…It’s all storytelling. Automatic and uncontrollable.

    It’s undeniable that we as a species are compulsive storytellers. This same quality that gives gusto to the hero, also opens the door to all sorts of hubris and vanity. While our well worn and tightly woven ideologies give us great capacity for creativity, unfortunately, this mania for narrative enables horrific human arrogance.

    I don’t have an answer as to what happens after we go. But I’m OK with the mystery. And as this piece nicely points out, it’d be to our benefit if more of us finally sloughed off the pretense, or at least copped to the unknowing that is the one inescapable fact.

    • Hubris beyond reasonable and rational proportions

      The burden of proof for afterlife is complicated. Here we have a single species making the claim that waiting for them after they die is a life beyond death. I do not make a distinction between the spiritualistic afterlife or the physicalistic afterlife. Both claims are inspired by the brain of this species. Both claims cannot be proved, and therefore they cannot be disproved. Both claims are entirely belief-dependent.

      So the question of whether we “have an answer as to what happens after we go” complicates things more so. Particularly in light of the fact that the have been millions of species long gone, there are millions of snow willcies now present coexisting with this single species who claims to have an afterlife. What about the millions who have gone before, what about the millions living alongside of us now? What do they get out of this special deal called afterlife? More to the point, why do humans get to experience life after death, but those millions before did not and millions now will not.

      What’s so special about humans to think that they, and only they, have the special right to even make the claim that they do?

      Now, take into account millions of earth-like planets where there are sure to be other millions (billions?) of species out there too. What about them? Do any of them have this special deal to live a life after death?

      There’s something wrong and ill-fitting with this picture of human afterlife. It just doesn’t ring true to me. For me it’s not a question of knowing or not knowing. The odds are simply astronomically against the possibility that one little species out of billions of creatures here and throughout our galaxy should have such a special deal for themselves.

      The only logical conclusion is, of course that one needs belief to say such a thing. Strip away the belief and you’re left with nothing. To make the claim “I (you) will live a life after death” is human hubris beyond reasonable and rational proportions.

      • Irrational numbers

        By any reasonable measure it does seems beyond astronomical possibility that life after death exists. To make any such claim is clearly wishful thinking. Yet I did frame the question as a question, in terms of wonder and mystery, because it seems conceivable that other dimensions, and unfathomable scales could exist. I suggest this more from awareness of our relative ignorance, and contact with things like DMT, and other non-ordinary evidence, not out of a hope that the party continues. Though I guess even holding out the chance could be interpreted as such fool-heartedness.

        • "Now do you see? Now do you see?"

          I was hoping you’d introduce a different, and as usual, fascinating view of this.

          For me and readers not familiar with DMT I Google it, of course, and chose the following link to call to our attention.

          My cursory view of this issue suggests that the brain is vital to the perception of other realities. Without the brain, like without belief, one has nothing to go on. What comes first, the brain or the other realities?

          In physics discussions of parallel universes, or Stephen Hawking’s “waveform model of the universe,” other dimensions, or any other models of quantum mechanics, most of these phenomenon are treated as science, without a layering of mysticism. To laymen, however, it’s not unusual for them to add that layer. After all, we humans do like our mysteries.

          From a materialistic viewpoint, DMT has to be consumed (digested, as it were) to enter the blood stream to have it’s effect (or more like affect) on the brain, specifically, as the link points out, the pineal gland in the brain.

          Cliff Pickover, the author of this blog, , DMT, Moses, and the Quest for Transcendence, wrote, “I experimented with DMT on several occasions in the past, and found that it provided access to a truly extraordinary mindspace, perhaps most importantly characterized by the preposterous but nevertheless wholly convincing sensation that “it” (the DMT induced ‘mind-space’) was far closer to ‘reality as it really is’ than ordinary, everyday experience. I was left with the curious impression that ordinary, everyday experience might more aptly be characterized as the hallucination here, and that the ‘warped’ impression of reailty I experienced under the influence of DMT was in fact more ‘genuine’.”

          None of this suggest an afterlife as it is believed to be by most religious, and many spiritualistic people. We are so dependent on the subtle and obvious intricacies of the human brain that it clearly indicates that when the brain is dead, so are all visions, mysteries, and all other worldly experiences. And, there is nothing to suggest that the brain can safely and definitely propel its keeper beyond it’s bodily death.

          In a way, it’s a damn shame. Our brain has certainly made humans one of the most fascinating creatures in our Galaxy (unfortunately one of the deadliest creatures as well…) Perhaps to the people of the future await an awakening wholly unrecognizable to the struggle we face now.

          As a conclusionist, I look for answers that makes sense to me as I can best assimilate whatever data I have. On a very real level I envy people of the future, but feel sorry for them. I can’t help but thinking we today walk through a mire in that perennial morass of fear, ignorance and superstition.

          • Scheherazade

            Thanks for kicking this around, very interesting.

            What keeps me pumped by this idea is that in my view, ‘we’ (homo sapiens) don’t really know what life is. I haven’t found a bulletproof definition, and I have poked around.

            I would not yet say consciousness is solely a brain game. That posits life as binary. On = Life, Off = Death. Jury is out, in my book.

            Scheherazade came along after a long list of beheaded virgins entered the realm of extinction. She at least made a shaggy dog story of the ordeal…not a bad tactic while we play for time.

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