One uncomfortable truth about getting older is that it sometimes feels wrong and even intellectually wasteful to me. As our brains fill with more and more useful and exciting information and our ability to problem solve grows exponentially while our lists of contacts and areas of influence expand, we begin to realize that there’s plenty of time, but often ask, “Is there enough life?”
Leonardo Da Vinci said, “Time stays long enough for those who use it.”
My goal, instead of watching life passing by, has been to enthusiastically work on creating a legacy that helps others? I’m not striving for Sainthood or even historical immortality through these actions, it just seems so much more productive than the alternative.
As we begin to notice the sands in your own personal hour glass rushing through like meteorites in fictional hyperspace, we realize that the panic or unrest that we sometimes experience is not so much fear of death, but fear of not having the purposeful time left on this planet to get done whatever we think we were put here to do. At least that’s been my challenge.
For those who think that this existence might all be random or arbitrary, that burden can be unbearable. The envy that this consideration makes many people feel toward their religious friends can be almost immeasurable. Yet, understanding those who reject evolution becomes easier because we can see that those individuals can’t bear to think that this all might be accidental. It is impossible for many to wrap their consciousness around infinity within nothingness.
If they are to embrace the knowledge that man and all of life simply evolved through billions of years of complex reactions and chemical interactions, there has to be some safety net, some handle to grasp onto tightly or they might free fall through infinite intellectual space.
To simply believe that all of this is just an explainable result of that evolution, like a tree or a butterfly that is here until it’s not here, then meaning has to be derived or created from some other source, some other means.
Obviously, it would be much easier to go through this fleeting journey with no guiding principles, no moral compass, and no ethical boundaries because every day could be a random holiday of self-gratification without retribution. On the other hand, the emptiness of that narcissistic journey is well documented.
We now know, definitively, that we are connected at a molecular level with everything and everyone in the universe.
So, back to time.
If we think positively, we can feel peace in this quote by Rabindranath Tagore, “The butterfly counts not months but moments, and has time enough.’
I once had a philosophy professor say that actually finding God was like looking for a black cat with its eyes closed in a dark room. Religion, of course is the most popular way of dealing with this challenge of balancing infinity and mortality, but maybe there are other ways as well; like goodness.
Possibly, just embracing goodness can be a great answer, a wonderful handle upon which to grasp.
Think about the ethical implications of The Golden Rule. It exists in some form in every religion of the world. Maybe just doing the right thing can be enough.
If we acknowledge our complex web of connectivity, why not spend each day being good to others, and thus being good to ourselves?
It shouldn’t be about guilt. It should be about making clear, positive choices between things like giving vs. greed or loving vs. hating; kindness vs. meanness; positive actions vs. negativity. Those values represents something good.
What if we’re born, we live, and we die and that’s it?
Deriving meaning from that experience, and facing our own mortality though that reality can be an overwhelming challenge.
I say, “Regardless of our personal beliefs, simply embrace goodness. You can’t go wrong.”