a pin-prick of eternity

When I saw that our blog master had named our group blog “transient”, I knew exactly what I would be writing my first post about. To be perfectly honest, I probably would’ve written this post on my regular blog even if this new blog was never created, and I will most likely publish some variation of this post on my regular blog now that it’s appeared here.

This year, I have read some very interesting, and very “different” books. I read New Earth which is sort of about spirituality and focuses a lot on focusing on the present moment; I read Hardboiled Wonderland and the End of the World which was a very bizarre story in which death – particularly the imminence of death – featured quite prominently; I read A Tale for the Time Being which dealt with suicide a lot; and I have just finished reading Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations which is a philosophical text that addresses, among many things, the idea of transience.

Side note: sometimes I wonder how vastly different I would be if I never read as extensively as I do…

All these books – which, let it be noted, I did not intentionally choose to read in that order, or consciously plan to read them all this year, but rather that it so happened that I came across them or otherwise felt compelled to pick them up when I did – all these books have got me thinking, subconsciously and consciously, from time to time, about how everything is transient and ephemeral and impermanent and all those beautiful words that mean more or less the same thing.

Nothing is everlasting, eternal, immortal, forever.

I think Marcus Aurelius captures it well in this quote:

[Consider/remember] that in a short while you will be nobody and nowhere; and the same of all that you now see and all who are now alive. It is the nature of all things to change, to perish and be transformed, so that in succession different things can come to be.
– Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, Book 12, section 21

A broader perspective is given in this passage, in which he compares the lifespan of a human being with the timeline of the universe, and compares our place in this world with the vast expanse that surrounds us:

Every ocean is a drop in the universe: Mount Athos is a spadeful of earth in the universe. The whole of present time is a pin-prick of eternity. All things are tiny, quickly changed, evanescent.
– Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, Book 6, section 36

It’s really put things into perspective for me. Yeah, sure, we’ve all heard the phrase “life is short” but, for me at least, those three words have lost their impact through ubiquitous and almost indifferent repetition. Sometimes life doesn’t feel like it’s short, but like it drags on interminably, and is far too long. But, really, what we have – the present moment – is barely a blip on the timeline of the universe.

There’s nothing quite like ancient philosophy and Roman Stoicism to make one feel utterly insignificant, hey?

But there is a positive spin on this: I firmly believe that life is too short to be miserable or angry or hateful. Sure, these things are inevitable in any human life, but I don’t want to waste too much time in these mindsets. I’m hoping, also, that this perspective will help motivate and inspire me to make the most of what time I do have.

Of course, I don’t mean that I want to be constantly doing something, or always involved in some project or worthy endeavour. I simply mean that, if confronted with two options, I hope I’d be quick to choose the one that is most worthy of my limited time and faculty as a human being. And I’ll still happily partake in rest, and leisure, and nothingness, but I’ll try not to get lost in listlessness, or become complacent in repose.

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8 thoughts on “a pin-prick of eternity

  1. How to “make the most of what we have” is always a good question.
    I get myself asking daily, what can I make of it today?
    Too much is no good, too little is not enough. It is kind of an internal and eternal battle, not too much, not too little.
    Live, understand, learn, accept, keep moving, always moving. One step forward and you are no longer at the same place.
    Hope you get most of the choices right 😉

    Like

  2. Hello Sharon!

    Always writing such insightful and deep topics… I sometimes wish I were a reader like you, but I have always been lazy and lost in my own thoughts and all the stuff I have to do in the practical sense, more than what others have written. I think it’s good to read so much because you can learn so much from reading too.

    It’s food for thought; just how short life is.. I can’t believe I’m already 28 years old soon. And I feel like I haven’t accomplished a third of what I want to do in life. At the same time, I do enjoy just smelling the roses without a huge desire to accomplish a huge lot. It’s a tricky task to juggle between everything in life and still enjoy the ride.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mm yeah, I feel like I learn a lot from reading, but it’s also a form of escape, I guess, and just relaxation. It’s many things to me~

      Getting the balance can definitely be hard. I reckon it just comes down to our own priorities and what really matters to you in the end. Not everyone will have the same “balance”

      Like

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