The Temporal Perspective


            Your remaining time in this life grows shorter each moment, and from a subjective point of view, the rate of aging and the journey to death accelerates as time passes.  This painful truth is exacerbated by the truism that your initial allotment of time in this life is very limited, especially when viewed from a grand cosmic perspective of time.  Two hundred years from now, a twinkle in the history of time, your remains will be unrecognizable dust.

If the brevity of our lives were manifestly apparent at its outset, the impact would be emotionally devastating, and, indeed, a complete understanding of the ephemeral nature of existence would exercise a corrosive and undermining influence over every aspect of human endeavor.  Fortunately, or unfortunately, most of us become aware of the imminence of non-existence only at that point where the disabilities of aging encourage us to welcome death. 

Some aspects of brief life are profoundly uncertain and bewildering.  On the other hand, there are a number of life issues that appear to be quite certain. 

The nature and purpose of life and death, for example, are uncertain and mysterious.  That does not mean that people are without firm conviction on these subjects.  This certainty of belief, however, is in no way a product of clear proof and undeniable experience.  Accordingly, it comes as no surprise that throughout time and geography, amongst the many different races and creeds, there are a multitude of different beliefs and convictions on the nature and purpose of life and death.  Likewise, it comes as no surprise that the major determinant of your fundamental beliefs about life is simply who your parents are and where you were born.

Other matters are quite certain and appear to be without any doubt amongst everyone but the insane, the retarded, and those who are incurably philosophical.  For example, it appears virtually certain that we will all die and that our journey throughout life will take approximately seventy-five years, plus or minus a little based on chance, heredity, life style, and medical intervention.  Maybe you will be one of those exceptional people who live a bit past 100, maybe you will die of some dread disease, homicide, or accident in early childhood.  It is virtually certain that you will not live beyond the age of 130.  Accordingly, in a matter of a few hundred years, a mere spec of  time, there will not be a single person on the planet who will have personal a recollection of  you.

While it would be a cause of considerable misery to contemplate the temporal perspective too much, it would be a cause of even more misery to ignore the imminence of death.  Only by remaining cognizant of the brevity of life can you stay focused on the importance of making wise choices, especially with regards to choices that create obligations that are enduring.  It has been said that the only thing that you cannot buy is time.  While this may be overstated, it is clear that time is amongst the most valuable commodities we deal with during our lives.  As we age, this commodity becomes more and more valuable.  At age 25, the waste of 5 years of your life in an endeavor that yields little satisfaction, may be a waste of 10% of your remaining life span.  At age 70, the same waste will disable almost 100% of the balance of your life.  It is for this reason that passivity is one of the greatest of life sins, and it is for this reason that the aggressive adoption and implementation of life guidance directives cannot be abandoned at any cost.