Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Carpe Diem Chronicles

Something happens though no one wants it to. It sneaks up when you’re in the middle of your afternoon coffee or mid-step on a 12-mile hike.

You are dying, dying, dying.

And with you: all of those dreams and what-might-have beens. But where did it all go? The almost-reality of summer internships in Paris; the train that kept you from a moment of bliss?

And what of those long walks in the rain – where have they gone? Or your spark, for that matter, which once upon a time could ignite the world.

What did they say you would be, when you were young? What did you say?

Were you going to publish a novel? Act on broadway? Cure cancer?

This is the potential of every life, exponentially wasted.

In Ernest Becker’s Denial of Death, these dreams of ours dwindle as we come to terms with our mortality, anxious by the ever-increasing pressure to leave something behind.

“Immortality projects,” he calls them. Beacons by which future generations will remember us. Traces of the dead, forever engrained into the living.

And while some never lose sight of those early dreams – and so paint their way into history books – most turn instead to the project that society (both modern and ancient) has deemed the simplest means of self-preservation: the propagation of the species.

Which is to say: procreation.

It is this biological desire that so strikingly resembles those of our animal brethren – creatures we’ve held ourselves above since the first caveman turned a grunt into an utterance.

But even the most brilliant of minds will awaken some day to a realization: the same realization that haunts parents and dictators and artists alike, from the recesses of their very subconscious.

You. Are. Trapped.

You’re caught in a life cycle that seems beyond your control; and yet, beneath you: a mammalian instinct engrained in your DNA, and so very well out of your hands.

The doom of your lifeline is carved into your palm, so deeply engrained that no amount of scrubbing could ever erase.

[How’s that for futility, Mrs. Macbeth?]

Your dreams, once upon a time, were limitless. But your hours upon this earth are not. So why, then, all of this wasting?

When all along, we have only ourselves to blame.


david said...

Thank you for you words and photos. It was worth the wait.

M@ said...

Your words resonate w/ this animal.

Unacademic Advisor said...

Blame? Maybe there is no blame. Maybe it's not about giving up and wasting time. Maybe it's about focusing on things that really matter to oneself rather than trying to change the world or impact it.

Perspectives and priorities may change over time, but that doesn't have to be a negative thing. Try to see the positive sometimes. I know you, and I know that you do, despite appearances to the contrary within these cyberwalls.

Anonymous said...

Does it matter if we have a legacy? Think of the words of Shelley's Ozymandias. Everything passes away.

Don't think about the opportunities you have missed. Think about the opportunities you are going to make next. The meaning of life is to live it.

XOXO said...

Have you by chance suddenly fallen ill? Can you not make your dreams reality? What holds you back?

Pamela said...

I forgot everything you said once I saw the guys on the bike.

Stacy said...

excuse me while I chew my veins open- ms. maudlin. I feel sorry for that bear though, really sad. Maybe you could let someone know the bears like to run around and eat bird feeders and dog food in VA.