«Footfalls echo in the memory
Down the passage which we did not take
Towards the door we never opened
Into the rose-garden. My words echo
Thus, in your mind.»
So far I’ve seen 38 spring equinoxes. With a good dose of luck, I’ll see twice as many before I go to the place where nothing changes.
Or am I getting too lyrical? The only place where nothing happens, nothing changes, would be a frozen universe with infinite entropy.
For the time being let’s be realistic, no matter how it hurts: Even after our death, the world will keep going.
A consolation: Every single molecule, every single atom of this body, which now constitutes a whole entity, will keep existing, as a part of another entity or it will roam, solitary and light-hearted, in the stratosphere.
There is no end but change.
There is no death, only hiatus of the conscience.
After all, that’s why the sleep in considered as the brother of death. Because conscience is absent. Therefore death is nothing but an endless sleep. Without dreams.
Don’t be sad. Our being will keep on existing through our genes, as our children carry within them day and night for the rest of their lives.
Richard Dawkins maintains that we’re nothing else but robot vehicles blindly programmed to preserve and reproduce our genes. And something more: We produce and reproduce memes.
Even when we cease having conscience, our energy will keep reproducing.
Every word of us, every deed, echoes in eternity.
I think that this phrase, which was coined by a larger-than-life fellow, is such an astute meme that is integrated in my mind as my own thought.
The world will keep on turning without us, yet we will be an ingredient of this world.
What will be missing?
That thing that sends me shivers down my spine when I remember, when I feel, this unrepeatable and brief privilege of life.
Yes, the subjective perception of life, of the world, just like each and every one of us has it, lives it.
People will keep falling in love but you won’t be there.
People will keep savouring the first ice-cream of spring but you won’t be there.
People will keep kicking around theories at the balcony over a glass of wine, but you won’t be there.
People will keep being hurting and killing but–fortunately- you won’t be there.
A minor loss for the universe, the erasure of your conscience.
(Going through the lines above, I realized that they are written in second person. I’m not supposed to die! You are!)
Just imagine how many people die every day, violently, unexpectedly, or lived to a ripe old age. But what is the matter of all these deaths to our planet as a whole?
By Jupiter! What’s the importance of my death (first person now) in the entirety of the universe?
If we could perceive the whole ball of wax, then we could realize how insignificant every one of us is.
And yet we behave as if we are the centre of the universe.
Our toothache is of greater importance than a genocide.
This egocentricity is far but irrational. Every living creature is permeated with it. It protects itself, its genes, sometimes the rest of the members of its team, always for selfish reasons.
Yet humans have an uncanny ability too.
Uncanny, because isn’t much helpful with regard to survival. Cockroaches are doing better, without a brain no less. Let alone bacteria.
A human can grasp their insignificance.
They don’t do it too often. Most of the time of this brief existence, they are concerned about minor issues of survival: Bills, job, sex, children, loan, car, TV, diet and prostate.
Some people may never stop for a while and wonder who they are and what are they fighting for.
No! Every man has the switch.
The shepherd from his metatum1 gazes at the stars, feeling an innermost and nameless awe, perhaps horror, for the vastness that engulfs him
Paraphrasing Sartre: Man is doomed to philosophize.
You listen to traditional songs, folk proverbs and tales, words uttered by old people who didn’t go to school and are completely unaware of Sartre’s existence.
If you pay close attention to them, you realize that every man has delved into the mystery of life and has questions and is nagged by thoughts similar to the larger-than-life ones.
So the other day in the supermarket, a shaky old woman who would hardly caught somebody’s eye, said to the cashier who couldn’t wait for the day to come to an end and go to sleep:
“You’re wrong! Why are we so eager for the day to come to an end? Every day that passes is never coming back.”
The difference boils down to terminology, phrasing. An old man would never speak of structuralism, memes and entropy.
His vocabulary is limited to one hundred words, as old as the place he lives, but when stringed together sagely, he touches – even momentarily – the magnitude of the likes of Shakespeare or Kavafis.
Some other times, there is no need for words. All you have to do is to take a look at an old sailor on Andros, who gazes at the sea like an old lover that he can never tame ever again.
Let’s wrap it up, before my anarchic train of thought leads me to new paths.
It’s spring. I am alive. I’ve witnessed thirty nine orbits of our planet around the star called Sun.
Whatever has taken place, is past. My life (the aforementioned 38 spring equinoxes) is but a grain of sand of humanity’s past, a nugatory part of the planet’s past, and with regard to the universe…
Many things are about to happen. That’s the future. The next 38 spring equinoxes (at best) are but an infinitesimal part of the future.
But his could be the last spring that each and every one of us lives.
The only thing that exists and matters is the present. And that’s vague.
What is present? What is life?
It’s the thrill you get when you live, when you remember that you live, when you remember you are mortal, when you stop running to smell the flowers or look at the other planets, especially this pretty one who appears first in the firmament.
Photography by Vangelis Giotopoulos
- Agricultural stone building (metatum) in Naxos island, Greece https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Naxos_metatum.JP