Nothing lasts forever. Not the earth, the sky, nor the mighty sun. Not you. Not me. Not anyone nor anything. Even the majestic mountains will crumble to less than dust. Everything and everyone we have ever seen or known will pass.
It is more than a concept. It is reality.
And, it can scare the shit out of us.
So much so, that I believe this stark image of total finality is so terrifying to the human concept of self identity and preservation that it provides the foundation for all spiritual and religious thinking. Dealing with it is part of EVERY major religion and quest for the understanding of what it means to live and to die. We want to, no, NEED, to believe that at least some part of us is eternal. Many of us find comfort in a belief system that promises its believers with eternal life should they follow the right path. Others may be more philosophical in their approach. And, still others believe in the literal end of time - when things are over they are simply that. I am not willing to judge what path anyone takes in their search for meaning in their lives and what it means to be at its end. I certainly don't have the answer for myself, much less to give to others.
However, as I get older, I'm forced to confront the issue more and more. As a doctor recently told me after a VERY rare but serious medical episode, "you're not a kid anymore, Frankie". And, he's right. As I age, my body IS changing. People say that I look much younger and I still have great energy (more than most younger people) but the fact remains that I am not physically capable of what I once was. I'm not a vestige of my former self but I ain't playing 60 minutes of football anymore, either! I'm grayer. I'm stiffer. I'm slower. I may even be crankier, too. It's happening. I have entered a zone where more of my life is behind me than is in front.
This is not depression. It is only if you let it be. It is reality - one that unites us all.
Part of getting older is also the realization that everyone (and everything) you have known for most of your life is aging with you. And, at some point, they will be gone. It is, again, something that we all have in common. As we age, it is a reality that we will all experience. I happen to be at the point where I must confront not only my own mortality but that of those around me, as well. I just lost the mother of a friend. She was a vivacious woman to the end -at 98. Stella (my mother for the uninformed) just turned 93. And, she is slowing down, enough to have us all concerned. She is a fighter and as long as she has passion for life she (and we) will continue. Even Rexie, my beloved dog, is much closer to the end of his life than he is to the beginning. Although in great shape for such a big guy, he is in is 13th year - ancient in dog years. Again, I MUST prepare myself for the inevitability that they may soon be no more - living only in my memory.
But, this does not frighten nor depress me. It can't. I have absolutely NO power to change or prevent it from happening. There is only acceptance. And, once we get there, there is also peace. There is release when we let go of how we would like things to be and come to terms with how they ARE.
However, there is something that must be done to empower us towards that moment: we must come to understand that all we posses is this very moment. The millisecond it took to think of and type that quote is now already gone. The next one is happening NOW - and, poof, that one is gone, too! Life is really just a series of moments, one after the other, until there are no more to be had. When we're young we think of them as infinite. They are not.
I suppose that my point is to remind people to focus in the moment - to have an awareness of everything and everyone around them. Live fully and completely. Be passionate. Love deeply and richly. Lose everything and gain more. Smile often. Laugh loudly. Cherish silence. Experience all. Fear none. Give all. Save no emotion for tomorrow. And, in the end, leave nothing of yourself but your deeds.
“When you laugh, laugh like hell. And when you get angry, get good and angry. Try to be alive. You will be dead soon enough.”
― William Saroyan