The metaphor of the circle of life is cliché, perhaps, but it’s a fundamental human concept. On the same morning that I picked up my Brianne’s baby, sang her silly made up songs in an instinctively driven high pitched voice, and let her kiss me goodbye, I was also indirectly confronted with death by choice. The train route between Osnabrück and Bremen was blocked because of a suicide. Someone threw their life away on the tracks of the Deutsche Bahn. I tried to imagine the strength of emotions or intoxicants that end in this awful choice. In that same moment, I passed the Porta Westfalica, an architectural expression of culture, of human culture. An affirmation of life. Without life, there is no death. And without death, there is no life.
In ancient Mesopotamia, Gilgamesh grieved for his friend, Enkidu, and explored the world in his search for immortality. In modern Switzerland, CERN researchers at the edge of science have perhaps found particles that move 50 nanoseconds faster than the speed of light. We are constantly exploring and trying to understand the universe around us. Nothing brings this home more than observing a baby grasp something with a new consistency or discover the taste of pureed strawberries. When discovery becomes obsolete, when curious eyes become glazed with indifference, maybe that’s the time when people check train schedules for a quick and messy exit.