Remembering Carl Sagan: Appreciation

A few weeks ago I so enjoyed re-reading Carl Sagan’s book (for which he won the Pulitzer Prize) “Dragons of Eden: Speculations on the Evolution of Human Intelligence”. My first experience of the book was thirty years ago. “I was so much older then…I’m younger than that now.” 🙂

Carl Sagan had figured BIG in my life, with WGBH Boston’s showing of his “Cosmos” when I was a teen, and for me much later–when he was living in Ithaca NY, teaching at Cornell University. His list of accomplishments is monumental! (just google to see)

Who will ever forget his classic “we are the stuff of stars”! When I was teaching at a Montessori School, I played that one out — doing my best to open up to my students the grandiose nature of the Natural Elements, their origin in the “cooking up” death of stars. And how we humans can be grateful in that gift of a star’s death!

Carl really was a poet at heart. He helped me as a teacher that way.

I forever followed much of his work, though I never had a chance to see him in person. When I lived in Ithaca, I often visited Ithaca Falls. There I could catch a glimpse of his and Ann Druyan’s house, perched magically at the left !right on the very edge!

When he died in December of 1996 at age 62, all of Ithaca seemed to fall into mourning. I felt moved to say good-bye and prepared to attend his burial to be held at a beautiful hillside cemetery in Ithaca, where he would join both his parents. Not knowing Jewish tradition, which did not allow flowers to be present, I’d brought along a bouquet of daisies. An attendant at the cemetery gate saw and shook his head, no. I left them on top of a column there.

To resume ~ In “Dragons of Eden”, in a chapter entitled “Madmen and Lovers”, Carl took me on the wildest adventure! In the end (if ever there is one) I understood me and my music leaning brain better; with this, I now understand culture from a new perspective and how the world is imbalanced, largely broken from Nature.

That the two hemispheres of the brain may quite often fight; how the left brain Linear Rational and right brain holistically experiencing Intuitive are, at best, unsettled partners. Left brain iron-fisted, ruling the roost.

I am so very grateful for Carl Sagan’s having been on this planet. His revolutionary ideas will endure. His childlike enthusiasm and intellectual rigor and poetic vision inspire me.

Today I wish to remember him and send him my love wherever he is. He’s hob-knobbing with beneficent ETs surely (inside joke)! Carl, you are still looking out, helping us evolve. Thank you!

Brain Indivisible (for Carl Sagan)

as my two equal hands make one
in reverence in honor in prayer

my left and my right brain do

let’s not dwell too much on it
one hand washing the other

simple voice of reason
simple voice of nature


at peace

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