In late evening, on the crest of a country hill, a young lady held a baby rabbit in her hands. The little thing was alone and needed help, so she fed him, warmed him, snuggled him to her breast with comforting coos.

“It’ll be alright,” she said, kissing his ears, knowing he comforted her as well.

The breeze calmed and warmth from the land beneath flowed into her. She reached out with her feelings and loved the grasses, the trees in the distance, the faint glow of a distant town in a valley, but her eyes were drawn to the stars. Out there, she knew, were wonders she longed to embrace: Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Planets Nine, Ten and Eleven, other stars, nebulae, galaxies turning like spokes on a wheel amid unknown depths of dark matter, expanding with dark energy… And, she thought to herself, we’re part of it. Life is part of it all. It’s not out there, separate from us; we’re here, too, all part of the same whole.

How could it be the universe could generate such a beautiful thing as life in a design that would let it go, let it die, let this wonderful appreciation for our place in the cosmos perish with “death”? How could it be that we get to connect so beautifully with life around us only to have it removed?

Perhaps the answer is in our quest to learn and in what we can do with it. The application of knowledge isn’t about things staying as they have been, but improving them.

A microbiologist, she knew: A high mutation rate helped our species adapt to changing conditions through our evolution, but that mutation rate also results in aging that is more rapid than it needs to be, through cell replication error.

What if death as we know it is only the beginning of our species’ life span? What if, now that we’re beginning to learn, we could use our larger brain to adjust the mutation rate? What if cell manipulation and chromosomal repair, through our own body’s stem cells could extend life? That we could use the brain we’ve been given to change ourselves, so we could love the cosmos longer?

It won’t be there in time for us, but it may be available to our descendants:

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