The interconnection with all life is not a random thought.  To me it is a fact. To say that we are more alike than different is true, as human life was formed from stardust, the explosion of stars to form supernovas that create and cast all the elements of the planets and all life in the universe.

It gives me comfort to know that life has this continuity. We are born containing these starburst elements, and these particles and energy remain, even after death. 

My fantasy is thus:

Upon death, my ashes will be scattered from the hillside chapel of our property that faces southwest toward the San Dieguito River. Water from Volcan Mountain follows this river about fifty-five miles before emptying into the Pacific Ocean. My ashes containing my life’s elements will thus be united with the Pacific.

From here, I’ll be taken on a long journey, swirling past islands and eventually being swept along the Kuroshio Current into the East China Sea toward South Korea’s Jeju Island with its scent of mandarin oranges in the balmy air. It is here that my elements will linger, finding a new place on this planet under the sea below the snow-capped volcano, Mt. Hallasan. 

Then, one warm subtropical day, one of the island’s Sea Women, called Haenyeo or Pearl Divers, will put on her wetsuit and attach a green net bag to a large orange float. She is searching for sea urchins and red sea cucumbers. She swims out past the seaweed-covered basalt rock; she’ll free dive ten to twenty feet under the turquoise water. 

After several half-minute dives, she surfaces to find herself surrounded by a pod of dolphins. Startled at first, she soon feels a kinship with their playfulness and considers this a good omen. 

The girl pulls the now heavy net to shore and is greeted by other divers who are anxious to see what she has found. Among the urchins and sea cucumbers, there are a couple of abalones, and a singular oyster shell. She carefully pries the shell open with her knife. There is still life within the crusty exterior. Deep inside the oyster, her knife tip releases a luminous round pearl that, unknown to her, contains the elements of my ashes. 

There, the circle of one life is complete.



PHOTO: John Durant