It’s already July 20th. The summer sun is bearing down on Providence, and as I spend my days working on my various projects, cycling and trying to stay cool, I am continually amazed by how fast the days, weeks, months and even years seem to be going by. It feels like it was just January and I was celebrating the New Year. Half a year has gone by seemingly in the blink of an eye. Each day I awake, go about my business, and before I know it I am preparing for bed. Never before have I been so busy and active; perhaps that accounts for the speed with which life seems to be moving along.
But something else is happening as well. It’s almost as though I’ve entered a new phase in my life. I am moving into adulthood. My sense of time is different. I am aware of my age, the age of others, and the entire arc of time that takes one from childhood to adulthood to old age and then death. That is not meant to be depressing–it’s just that I am becoming more cognizant of the way time flows. I never used to think about these things– the age of my parents, my own age, the passage of time–but now those things are always on my mind.
Don’t get me wrong. I delight in the workings of the world, and am not in the least not saddened by my new impression of time. More than anything, I am amused as I observe myself changing. New perspectives, thoughts and ideas are entering my mind. Life and death are like two dancing partners, equally skilled, and while for a time Life leads and awes the crowd, Death always steals the show. At least that’s how things are from the point of view of an individual life; but from the viewpoint of all living things, the dance does not end, and Life is triumphant. That is what gives me the most joy: the fact that I am part of a larger whole, and my work, my passion, my ideas can, as Henry Wadsworth Longfellow once put it, “leave footprints on the sands of time.”
So even though time is flying, it is also staying still, pausing as it were to allow me to paint a mural on its facade. The most tantalizing notion of all to me is that of leaving my mark, of inspiring others, of accomplishing great things. Whenever I ponder the nature of existence and am left feeling small or incapable of reshaping my surroundings in accordance with my heart’s desire, I think back on the fact that throughout history it has been great individuals that have changed the course of the world. Not only that, but feeling small makes me feel blissful, because while I know there is no limit to what I can achieve, I also know that I am no more important than the most delicate insect upon a shriveled leaf, feasting on a drop of dew before the hot sun takes it away. . .
As Albert Einstein once said, “one ponders the insignificance of the individual, and it makes one feel happy.”