The Shortness of Life

1995-11-25

I've been thinking quite a bit lately about my future. I will hit the big "3-0" next year and I guess milestones like that tend to make one think about how far one has come and how far one has yet to go. I'm planning on living to at least 84 (that's my bare minimum, since it gets me halfway through the next century) and hopefully to 100, so I've got quite a few years ahead of me. But I get these glimpses sometimes of the shortness of life, and they give me reason to wake up and get moving. They also make me think about the meaning of life. You know, what are we all here for? I don't mean in a theological sense, of course, but in a practical sense. Sometimes I experience this extremely vivid but fleeting sensation of all the people who have ever lived and who are living and who ever will live -- it's a weird feeling that I can't describe very well, an insight into the fact that I am just one of so many, living at this time in this place, that my life is in the wider context just a speck in the universe -- and I think about what meaning there is in life. Paradoxically, these moments make me treasure my life even more, because I know that the only meaning in it is the meaning I create. But it is awe-inspiring to think about myself as merely one instance in this open-ended series of individuals. I wish I could describe the feeling more fully -- perhaps I'll try to write a poem about it at some point.


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