Saturday, June 27, 2009

The Length of One Lifetime

Can you imagine for a moment one of those science shows on television; perhaps it’s a documentary, and it’s on covering the lifespan of one human life, from birth until death. It’s a narrated time-lapse visual testimony of the physical growth of this person, together with the melding of all their different experiences on earth.

Imagine watching the physical development of the body perhaps in a supine, naked position, with one frame representing a week of life. For a life of ninety years there would be 4,680 frames or still photographs on that take of film. The film would last less than ten minutes in duration.

Interposed with the physical development and then aging of the body, on a separate piece of film, is all the different experiences that person would experience. All the people they’d meet, all the places they’d visit, all the jobs they’d have etc. This gives us the perception that rather a lot could be crammed into that equivalent of a sub 10-minute film.

How much of life on earth would we have tasted… the foods, the emotions, ownership of things, the sights, the phases of life, and life in relationship? These are but some, a mere smattering, of the picture of the lived life.

And we know it, that even over ten years there’s so much experienced, so many things learned, and so many mistakes made, yet we somehow get through. No wonder we think life will never come to an end--it seems so long.

The truth is, however, the day we meet our Maker will soon be upon us. We don’t have a choice over this inevitable fact. We can only decide how to live now. And as the next generation of humanity takes over, when we’re long gone, what will we have been known for during our brief time here?

We live at times in ways as if we were going to live forever; at least some of our plans are pitched in the eternal. As we plan, we deceive ourselves into not thinking and not considering our fragile existence. And thinking about some of the ‘brave’ (a.k.a. foolish) risks we’ve taken that have denied death--these too are paradoxically veiled in our own denial that death is even a remote possibility.

The time will come when all that youth has gone, and what will we have to show for it? That must make us all sit up to attention. If we care.

Copyright © 2009, S. J. Wickham. All Rights Reserved.

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