We are all made of atoms

My daughter, Ella, is three and a half years old. During a recent discussion, I mentioned that she hadn’t been born yet when a certain incident happened. She said, “Where was I? Was I dead?”  I told her, “Well… kind-of.”  I mean technically, she was dead! We were all dead before we were born if you think about it. Her question actually reminded me of one of my favorite quotes by Mark Twain. He said:

“I do not fear death. I had been dead for billions of years before I was born, and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience from it.”
I explained to her that she was everywhere. She was all around. She was in the air and in the grass and in the oceans.  We are all made of stuff. We’re made of matter. Touch your arm… it’s solid. It’s made of ‘stuff.’ It’s made of atoms. Those atoms had to come from somewhere right?
Babies are small when they’re born. Then they grow up and become you and me. We all get big, but we don’t ‘magically’ get big. That ‘stuff’ had to come from somewhere.
It comes from the air we breathe. It comes from the food we eat and the water we drink. Babies drink milk and the calcium in that milk gets digested and processed and adds to their bones. The protein you’re consuming when you’re enjoying that delicious hamburger forms your muscles. Human bodies are made up of approximately sixty percent water… water that you drank! The water that came out of your tap from the giant water tank off in the distance that is filled up with rain water that condensed into clouds after evaporating from the oceans. You’re collecting atoms and adding them to the pattern that is known as ‘you.’

And the road is a two-way street! You’re shedding atoms even as you read this. The majority of the dust in your house are your dead skin cells. Breathe on a cold glass of water or window in winter and you’ll fog it up with your breath and the water vapor you’re exhaling. Brush your hair or clip your nails and you’re chipping away at those hard-earned atoms you’ve been collecting. I don’t think I have to talk about what happens in the bathroom do I? You eat pasta made from flour that used to be grain growing in a field. You put those atoms into the appropriate puzzle-piece part of your body. One day you’ll die and those atoms you were borrowing for your pattern will return to the dirt. Grain will use the water you exhaled and the dirt made of your body to borrow for it’s pattern and grow to ultimately be made into pasta again.

No one really dies, we simply change shape. We are everywhere. We are all around us. Our patterns will disappear forever though. There will never be another you. You are special. Your pattern is unique. So, go have fun and enjoy your pattern while you can. But even when you die, I’ll take solace in the fact that you’re not ever really gone. You’ll always be around – all around me!


“Do not stand at my grave and weep, I am not there I do not sleep. I am a thousand winds that blow, I am the diamond glints on snow, I am the sunlight on ripened grain, I am the gentle autumn rain. When you awaken in the morning’s hush, I am the sweet uplifting hush Of quiet birds in circled flight. I am the soft stars that shine at night. Do not stand at my grave and cry, I am not here, I did not die.”

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