In space travel, we have seen how aerospace engineers use a gravitational “slingshot”—the “swing-by” or gravity assist maneuver—to alter the path and speed of a spacecraft.
The relative movement and gravity of a planet or other astronomical object is substituted for fuel, time, and expense to propel a spacecraft on its path, increasing or decreasing its speed. This “assist” is achieved by the motion of the gravitating body as it pulls on the spacecraft.
It was used by interplanetary probes from Mariner 10 onwards, including two Venus flybys and the two Voyager probes’ notable flybys of Jupiter and Saturn.
To me, this provides a useful analogy to the process of transitioning from one lifetime to the next. Most people are concerned with leaving their accumulated assets and wealth to those they leave behind, but many times this leads to a dissipation of one’s purpose and intent.
I prefer to maintain focus on “investing” this accumulation in some outcome that is not likely to be realized in my own lifetime—specifically, to giving parricides a second chance at life. Maybe what I leave behind won’t be much more than what is here now; but at least it is a nearly-blank canvas or foothold with which motivated parricides can begin to rebuild their lives—which is more than they have now. Anyway, that small foothold is good enough for me as I enter my final years.
As I have mentioned to you before, I am fascinated with the idea of the continuity of existence: from past lives to the present, and from the present to a future life. I am obsessed with the possibility of leaving behind a clue that will lead some future self to a discovery of what I have learned and done in this life. It may be a pipe dream, but I don’t care; leaving behind a positive legacy is preferable to living an inconsequential life that no one remembers or cares about.
It seems to me that one of the best things a person can do is to live out one’s life with grace, dignity, positivism, wisdom, conviction… and yes, courage. This is denied to many people, but fortunately not all. I am thankful I will likely die a happy man, but hopefully no time soon.
Research shows that feeling grateful doesn’t just make you feel good. It also literally helps the heart. Gratefulness is good for your heart. It fends off depression, stress, and anxiety, which can increase the risk of heart disease. Researchers even did blood tests to measure inflammation, the body’s natural response to injury or plaque buildup in the arteries, and they found lower levels among those who were grateful—an indication of a healthier heart.
So Happy Thanksgiving and Long Life!
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