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PENsive – Sketch #12: “What Do You Take with You? What Do You Leave Behind?” featuring Death

There is so much hate in this world and such a long history of hatred. For centuries, people have ignored what makes us as human beings so similar, and have focused on the few things that make us different. What do you take with you? What do you leave behind?



Series Overview:
– Welcome to the world of PENsive: from the mind and pen of Artist Damon Kardon. This is a weekly editorial cartoon satirizing the social ills of our time, especially what Damon finds most perplexing in the music/arts, social media and political industries.

About the Sketch:
– So far in this series, I have memorialized people I’ve loved, celebrated music that deserves celebrating, and ragged on some bands and musicians I’ve felt could do better. Overall, my words have come from a place of love and I really, truly appreciate the arts and people who create genuinely in all forms. I need to take a quick break with my usual Modus Operandi to discuss something weighing on my mind these days.

I don’t know about you, but I can become obsessive when thinking about death. I can remember as a kid, my first strong feelings of loss and sadness happened with the Space Shuttle Challenger explosion in 1986. I was 9 years old and I remember how much that affected everyone. Leading up to it, we were celebrating in school how Crista McAuliffe would be the first teacher in space. All of my friends and their families were excited to see this launch, and everyone was devastated when the accident happened. I remember crying in the hallway of my house and my parents consoling me. I think what affected me the most about that tragedy is that it was felt by so many people. I had never seen so many people so sad. I always think back to that when I see mass-shooting tragedies become common-place and so frequent today. How would my 9-year-old self be able to process that today? I understood the loss of life back then and knew it was an accident; a mechanical failure. When multiple people are being shot down by a person with hate in their heart, how do you explain that to a kid?

What Happens After We Die?

We live in a divided world where the most minor of differences between two people seems to instantly build an immovable wall. Take your pick: religion, politics, the color of your skin, your sexual preference, your identity; there is going to be some part of you and what you believe and how you identify that is going to offend someone else. How crazy is that?! No matter what, when you are born into this world, you have immediately offended someone else with one of these traits or beliefs or cultural aspects. You haven’t even formed your first words. There is so much hate in this world and such a long history of hatred. I feel that people for centuries have ignored what makes us as human beings so similar, and have focused on the few things that make us different. As well, we should be learning about each other more and using those differences as an educational tool, but instead we dig deeper into ourselves and our own journey, and many times, our own hate.

What do you take with you? What do you leave behind? I think about these two questions so much now. I always brushed off the ultimate truth that everyone dies. Once I had kids, there was no more of that. I accept I will die at some point and I needed to make sure I knew what my focus should be while on this earth. I am here to make sure my kids are as safe and as healthy as possible and to try my best to make sure they grow up to be decent human beings. I also want them to have empathy and kindness in their heart. I want to leave behind a legacy of love and hope that they knew I loved them and was not a hateful person. I want to take with me the memories of love I shared with them as well as anyone I had gotten to know during my life.

Check out the full-resolution version of the PENsive #12 sketch.


Whatever religion you believe in, I think we all know that we can’t take the material items we have accrued in life with us. We can only take what we have learned in life and our memories. I don’t want to take memories that I have hurt anyone or negatively changed their path in life. If you leave a legacy of hate to those who looked up to you, you know that this hate will live on and grow and affect other people negatively. What is the purpose for all of that?

People have different theories of where our spirits or souls travel to once we die, but it is a fact that once we die and our bodies decompose, our skeleton remains and we all look the same. Was it worth it that a difference in skin color or culture or politics or religion kept you from knowing, and maybe loving, your neighbor? I’m talking about that fellow human being who you share 99% more similarities than differences. I remember that tragedy in 1986 because through all that sadness I felt like the country, possibly the world, came together to grieve and get through it.

I don’t feel that now. I want us to forget about the questions of why and how and what we can do to avoid this, and I want use to grieve together, and work together, as world citizens and as human beings.

Why Do We Die?