When I Am Gone

This poem of the world we leave behind can encourage us to take good care of the earth for future generations.

earth

If the Portuguese sailors on Mauritius in 1600 could see into the future, they would have hesitated before wiping out those queer dodo birds. But our lifespans fit into no more than 70 or 80 or 90 years.

Had they been able to visualize the need for their descendants to see these delightfully incongruous birds alive, they might have saved a few for us. But one of the reasons we are short-sighted is because our lives are relatively short. Thus we are predisposed to focus only on what is happening during our lifespan and are short-sighted because our lives are relatively short. We are predisposed to focus only on what is happening during those 70 or 80 or 90 years from our birth to our death.

But imagine what the world would be like if we could expand our time-limited vision and experience our lives as simply part of the flow of humanity and of other living beings for millenniums. Suppose we took school children to a naturally occurring place they would consider special (Disneyland won’t do). Suppose we asked them to imagine all the people in centuries past who might have stood at that same spot. Suppose we then asked them to think of those who will come after they are gone, people who will be born many years in the future. As we helped them stretch their minds back into the past and far into the future, they would become much more aware of their role in protecting this earth.

If we view our lives as part of the entire sweep of history, we may recognize that death has always been, and will always be, an integral part of the history of humankind. It is not how long we live that matters, but how we live.

“When I Am Gone . . .” touches on this topic. It expresses the appreciation for what I was given when I was born and what I must treasure and protect so the earth can continue to offer its blessings for generations to come.

When I Am Gone…

When I am gone, there will still be a planet called Earth . . .
When I am gone, there will still be vast rolling oceans . . .
When I am gone, there will still be snow-capped mountains . . .
When I am gone, there will still be cool deep canyons . . .
When I am gone, there will still be quiet in winter . . .
When I am gone, there will still be the promise of spring . . .
When I am gone, there will stil be the beauty of summer . . .
When I am gone, there will still be harvest in the fall . . .
When I am gone, there will still be laughter among friends . . .
When I am gone, there will still be the love and innocence of a child . . .
When I amd gone, there will still be the serenity of a quiet evening . . .
When I am gone, there will still be prayer in the heart . . .

This is the world I have inherited.
I will treasure and protect it
for my children
and their children
and their children’s children
and . . .

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