1Lowell 1 Lowell was the very first person I spoke with for this project. He grew up in a religious family in the farming community of Blooming Oregon. Although his father was a minister, Lowell became a “non-believer” at the age of 9. In highschool, when everyone else around him seemed to know what they wanted to be when they grew up, Lowell only knew that he wanted to understand the world around him. He went to university, studied math, and became a professor of Mathematics and a “philosophy junky”. He eventually bought a small piece of land in the forest by the water where he could create and contemplate. At the age of 33, Lowell had an experience in which he woke up in the middle of the night, completely petrified. He was gripped with an emotionally deep realization that he would one day die and his consciousness would be no more. It was at this point that he began reading about death and trying to understand and come to terms with it. He said this may have helped prepare him for his diagnosis of terminal lung cancer at the age of 76, “…although I don’t like the idea of dying, and I won’t even say I’m ok with it…but it actually is not something that sits on my mind negatively…” In reference to the diagnosis, he said “… it did have the advantage of increasing one’s appreciation of life. In fact I think it would be nice for everybody to think they’re going to die and then not!” We talked a great deal about aging, “I’m a great exponent of aging…We start out life not knowing anything, not even knowing what it is we should know. And so I view life as very much a process of learning, and that’s why being old has a lot of advantage… Basically, meaning in life comes from narrative and experience, and the older you are, the more you have of that.” When I asked what kind of wisdom he would like to pass on to others, he told me “I wouldn’t claim any wisdom, but I think I’m, at least, less foolish than I used to be.” However he did talk about how in today’s polarized society, he would urge people to listen to each other, and for everyone to be able to discuss and share their opinions openly and respectfully, so we could learn from one another. When I asked Lowell about his beliefs after death he said “my guess is that I’m like a leaf on the tree. The leaf is there, it has an individuality for a while, but eventually the molecules disperse, and that leaf, as an identity, doesn’t exist.”  Lowell left me with some inspiring words at the end of our discussion, “ “We cannot change the past or know the future, but we can know the past and change the future, therefore live in the present with a view to the future.”