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For Small Creatures Such as We summary

Sasha Sagan

Rituals for Finding Meaning in Our Unlikely World

4.1 (81 ratings)
23 mins

Brief summary

'For Small Creatures Such as We' by Sasha Sagan explores the intersection of science, art, and ritual in human culture. Sagan shares personal stories and offers insightful reflections on how we create meaning in our lives through traditions and beliefs.

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    For Small Creatures Such as We
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    Celebrating birth is a way to acknowledge the remote odds that we exist at all.

    Most of us have had the experience of marveling at a newborn baby. It’s extraordinary to think that every single person who’s ever lived starts life as a tiny bundle. If we’re lucky, we get to keep that life for around 80 to 100 years, but compared to the lifespan of our universe – currently believed to be 13.8 billion years – our lives are barely a blink in time. Knowing this makes them even more precious.

    If we consider the events that led to our existence, each human’s presence on Earth is seemingly miraculous. Scientists estimate that so far, there have been around 7,500 generations of Homo sapiens. This means that for you to exist with your unique blend of genes, thousands of specific sexual encounters between your ancestors had to take place. When we factor in mortality, natural disasters, and historical events like war, the odds of you being you are extremely remote. 

    Happenstance also plays a role in our appearance on this tiny green planet. Author Sasha Sagan’s grandparents met in 1938 on the E train in New York City. Sagan’s grandfather Harry was reading Faulkner’s Absalom, Absalom! As he turned the page of his book, the woman sitting beside him placed her hand on his arm. She hadn’t finished reading the page. 

    That woman became Sagan’s grandmother. If she’d sat in a different carriage or taken a different train line, Sagan’s grandparents might never have met, and Sagan would never have come into being two generations later.

    It’s no wonder then that, as a species, we have countless rituals to welcome babies to Earth. Baptisms and naming days are popular in the Western world. Chinese families host a feast when a baby is 100 days old, celebrating that the child has defied early death. Many cultures – from the Balkans to Jamaica – plant seeds or trees.

    Though traditions vary, they commonly center around a hopeful wish for the unique person that has entered the world. You can create your own meaningful ritual to provide this for your newest family member. Your ritual might be as simple and intimate as reading a special poem to your baby or it might be something more elaborate, like throwing a party to introduce them to the people who’ll be part of their lives.

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    What is For Small Creatures Such as We about?

    For Small Creatures Such as We (2019) is a guidebook for those seeking to celebrate the milestones of life – both joyful and painful – in a nonreligious context. By exploring traditional ceremonies through a scientific lens, author Sasha Sagan invites secular individuals to develop their own meaningful rituals that create wonder and provide comfort.

    For Small Creatures Such as We Review

    For Small Creatures Such as We (2019) is a thoughtful exploration of the wonders of nature and the human need for ritual and spirituality. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • Offers a refreshing perspective on the intersection of science, spirituality, and ritual, challenging readers to reconsider their beliefs and find meaning in everyday experiences.
    • Engages readers with personal anecdotes and relatable examples, providing an intimate and relatable reading experience.
    • Insights into the author's famous parents, Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan, add a unique dimension to the book and allow readers to glimpse into their lives.

    Best quote from For Small Creatures Such as We

    All our best rituals are a kind of performance about what we need or want most.

    —Sasha Sagan
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    Who should read For Small Creatures Such as We?

    • Secular people wishing to participate in meaningful but nonreligious rituals
    • Families looking for new ways to celebrate milestones
    • Seekers of wonder wanting to connect more deeply with the natural world

    About the Author

    Sasha Sagan is a writer, editor, filmmaker, and television producer who has worked in New York, Boston, and London. Known for examining cultural ritual through science, her essays have appeared in publications including New York Magazine and O, The Oprah Magazine.

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    For Small Creatures Such as We FAQs 

    What is the main message of For Small Creatures Such as We?

    Appreciate the wonder of the natural world and embrace the rituals that connect us to each other and the universe.

    How long does it take to read For Small Creatures Such as We?

    The reading time for For Small Creatures Such as We varies, but the Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is For Small Creatures Such as We a good book? Is it worth reading?

    For Small Creatures Such as We is worth reading for its celebration of life, rituals, and the beauty of the natural world.

    Who is the author of For Small Creatures Such as We?

    Sasha Sagan is the author of For Small Creatures Such as We.

    What to read after For Small Creatures Such as We?

    If you're wondering what to read next after For Small Creatures Such as We, here are some recommendations we suggest:
    • The Power of Ritual by Casper ter Kuile
    • The Varieties of Religious Experience by William James
    • Cosmos by Carl Sagan
    • The Now Habit by Neil Fiore
    • Less Doing, More Living by Ari Meisel
    • Making Habits, Breaking Habits by Jeremy Dean
    • The ONE Thing by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan
    • Free to Focus by Michael Hyatt
    • Don't Overthink It by Anne Bogel
    • Dare to Lead by Brené Brown