Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes
– James 4:14
I believe that the beauty of life is that it is short, temporary and so fleeting. You treasure something you can’t always have nor grasp eternally. It’s hard to fathom how ephemeral life is when we are heavy laden with the necessities of achieving the archetypal requirements that our societies have set for us. You ought to go to college, get that respectable job, get married, look a certain way, earn a certain wage, be a contributing member of society, be part of a community and the list of expectations and pressures bestowed upon us in our “modern” society is almost inexhaustible and sometimes if I might be so brash, redundant to an extent. Yes, they are imperative, I am not dismissing that but there is much more. So much more.
The question is what are we living for? For whom and why?
I have asked these questions umpteen times in my relatively short, yet eventful life peppered with some of the greatest disappointments, failures and extreme isolation which also has its noble fill of jubilant tears, serene hugs and beautiful life-long lessons. I have many more years to experience for I am only but 25, and I am ready for its battles and joys that it would bring. However, I want to know will it all be worth it eventually when I reach my deathbed where my flesh may fail and heart weak? Let me paraphrase and ask, is it better then to live forever?
People have been obsessed with living forever from the dawn of age. What is so enthralling about drinking from the cup of eternal life if life isn’t you know, impermanent? Can we truly treasure life if we cannot die?
With popular culture, blasting songs like “Forever young” by Alphaville it makes me wonder if life would be much more fulfilling if we could live forever. Let’s have a closer look at some of those stanzas of that song.
Let us die young or let us live forever
We don’t have the power but we never say never
Sitting in a sandpit, life is a short trip
The music’s for the sad men
Forever young, I want to be forever young
Do you really want to live forever, forever and ever?
Forever young, I want to be forever young
It seems like, living forever insinuates youthfulness, the ability to be young, and adventurous to do the things that one believes can only be achieved if they have youth on their side. In the Harry Potter series, this concept of living forever have been expounded greatly from the philosopher stone granting whoever who possesses the stone eternal life but at the expense of being extremely frail and of poor health as in the case of Nicolas Flamel. However, this seems more like a fear of death, an apprehensive perspective that life is fleeting and that death in and of itself is something entirely repulsive and ought to be feared as clearly seen in Voldemort’s case. There is no talk of youth or living life fully but just living life indefinitely.
I believe it all boils down to great discontent. The obsession with living forever is that they might still have the time to pursue neglected ambitions, to feel certain emotions and to live through specific experiences. However, can’t people simply change the way they lived instead of wanting to live forever? Why fear death if you are not actually living? Mankind’s obsession with immortality stems (at least from my perspective) from the fact that they fear dying not because death is some kind of a Bogeyman but rather that their lives are not full, contented nor satisfactory (which if you ask, is the frightening alternative). In other words, life wasn’t beautiful enough of a journey for them to hop off into the other world just yet, and when will they ever be ready to do so? Unfortunately, most depart never being ready to do so. Incredibly, it seems that most often than not, that the one that is truly alive in soul, spirit and body have no qualms facing death but conversely, the one that is apprehensive to look death in the eyes, lives a life of superficiality and emptiness , almost that the fear of a transient existent worries one that they actually live a dead life pursuing aimlessly through the course of it.
Just like the author of Ecclesiastes have so eloquently written in Ecclesiastes 1:2-8:
2 “Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher,
vanity of vanities! All is vanity.
3 What does man gain by all the toil
at which he toils under the sun?
4 A generation goes, and a generation comes,
but the earth remains forever.
5 The sun rises, and the sun goes down,
and hastens to the place where it rises.
6 The wind blows to the south
and goes around to the north;
around and around goes the wind,
and on its circuits the wind returns.
7 All streams run to the sea,
but the sea is not full;
to the place where the streams flow,
there they flow again.
8 All things are full of weariness;
a man cannot utter it;
the eye is not satisfied with seeing,
nor the ear filled with hearing.
Life wouldn’t be meaningless if we aren’t chasing after the dreams of others, when we are living for ourselves and for those that we hold dear to our hearts. To the memories that sweetens our minds, to the mollifying sounds of the waves crashing beyond the yonder, to love that heals the wounds inflicted by the rose of life when you grasp it by the weakness of your humanly hands – living for the things we would contemplate before our last breaths. There is a time for everything, just like the sun have its place in the skies and the stars ordained in the constellations of the night sky , guiding weary shipmen on their voyages. Do not live in vain.
What does a man get for all the toil and anxious striving with which he labors under the sun? All his days his work is pain and grief; even at night his mind does not rest. This too is meaningless. (Ecclesiastes 2:22-23 NIV)
Naked a man comes from his mother’s womb, and as he comes, so he departs. He takes nothing from his labor that he can carry in his hand. (Ecclesiastes 5:15 NIV)
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.(Ecclesiastes 3:1-8)
Love, be merry, struggle, bite the towel, live fully.
“Enjoy life with the woman whom you love all the days of your fleeting life which He has given to you under the sun; for this is your reward”…
I believe that the uncertainty of life, its temporary visit makes us human and to be human is to be conscious of our minds, soul, spirit, bodies, time and space, in the knowledge that we will soon pass, in the blink of an eye, like a vapor in the wind and so let’s make it count.
“When we are not sure, we are alive.”
― Graham Greene