For Small Creatures Such as We: Finding Wonder and Meaning in Our Unlikely World
"My parents taught me that the universe is enormous and we humans are tiny beings who get to live on an out-of-the-way planet for the blink of an eye," writes Sasha Sagan. "And they taught me that, as they once wrote, 'for small creatures such as we, the vastness is bearable only through love.' "
Sagan's beloved father is the late astronomer Carl Sagan, whose death in 1996, when Sasha was 14, continues to be a defining event in her life. ("Every loss you withstand in your life reopens all the others.") Her mother, Ann Druyan, co-wrote the acclaimed 1980 PBS documentary Cosmos. In Sagan's astonishingly beautiful and wiser-beyond-one's-years debut, her lineage bursts forth on each page like a literary and scientific big bang.
But even with a title that pays homage to her parents' legacy, For Small Creatures Such as We is very much Sasha Sagan's personal quest. She explores through memoir, cultural excavation, history and scientific curiosity how rituals--the secular, the simple and the special small moments--help people discover the reasons for their existence. Sagan, who describes herself as a secular Jew, writes that the desire to seek answers through wonder and connection is timeless, as old as the stars themselves.
"The idea of marking the longest, coldest night with the knowledge that the warmth and light is not too far off, that is ancient. And no matter where we're from, what religion we are, or to what ethnic group we belong, we can be sure that our ancestors, all of our ancestors, contemplated Earth's place in the universe with awe." For Small Creatures Such as We very much deserves to be read in the same way. --Melissa Firman, writer and editor at melissafirman.com