I see wisdom in approaching life as I would a drug trip, that is to enjoy the good times despite their fleeting nature, and to survive the bad times by remembering that they too will soon end.
Life is absurd, my species deeply and irredeemably flawed. On the one hand, life seems only too real at times both in terms of joy and sadness, but on the other, the accidental nature of our existence makes a joke of any claim to objective meaning.
All that most of us are and all that we do will be forgotten within five decades of our deaths, but even if we’re remembered for ten thousand years, we’ll be no less dead. In his old age, Benjamin Franklin wrote a sketch entitled “The Ephemera” in which he portrayed himself as the senior member of a species whose lifespan was measured in hours rather than decades. His point was that we would do well to take ourselves less seriously. Against the backdrop of eternity, the difference between a millisecond and a million years is inconsequential, and our lives are infinitely less than that.
I often remember bloggers who are now dead, and others who are fighting diseases that might very well kill them. Even as I write, one friend is in the hospital for what is likely to be her death. You and I will join her in a very few years. We can’t hold onto our loved ones, our possessions, or our achievements, and starting in our forties, we begin to observe the disintegration of our own bodies. If that’s not a trip, I don’t know what is.
The painting goes poorly with the title of this post, but I liked it anyway. It's entitled Pleiades and was done by Elihu Vedder in 1885. At the moment, it makes me feel as if I’m swimming atop ocean swells. Because I’m not a swimmer, this is a decentering experience, yet so very beautiful. Maybe tomorrow, the painting will make me feel as if I’m floating through infinite darkness while Simon and Garfunkel sing “Dangling Conversation.” What does it make you feel?
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