some thoughts on the brevity of life

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We can’t avoid thinking of our existential condition, of the shortness of our lives, of the transitory nature of everything. We do it all the time we exist, in all societies. The brevity of life torments the human spirit. The proximity of death is «a source of grief during all our life» (Edgar Morin).

 

Let us meditate on the superior way with which Homer expressed our condition as human beings: «Insignificant mortals, who are as leaves are, and now flourish and grow warm with life, and feed on what the ground gives, but soon fade away and are dead».

Let us list the sad music springing out of the words of Marcus Aurelius, the roman emperor, who was also a philosopher, reflecting on the shortness of our lives: «Life is a campaign, a brief stay in a strange region». «Time is a violent torrent; no sooner is a thing brought to sight than it is swept by, and another takes its place, before this too will be swept away».

Or the music of the verses of Psalm 103: «As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourishes. But the wind passes over, and soon all disappears; and his place will no more exist».

These thoughts reach beyond epochs and frontiers, they plunge into the depths of our soul; they are imbued with a serene controlled sadness, associated with the awareness of our inability to overcome the brutal force of an unjust reality that crushes.

In them lives the dignity of our conscience, our capacity of seeing beyond the present, of overcoming our humble origins, of assuming ourselves as the conscience of the living universe.

In them is also consubstantiated the strength of human art, of poetry, of beauty. They are a way of nullifying the smallness and insignificance of human beings, of raising us to a much higher level. They are well above the world that condemns human beings to death. In them we claim against the injustice present in the heart of life. In their way, they immortalize us.

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