So… I’m going to die.
No, not anytime soon, I hope. But like everyone else, soon enough. And I don’t particularly believe that there is anything more than that. Hope, sure, sure, but I don’t pretend.
In the last year, I lost myself the love of my life and virtually everything I cared about, hoped for, or wanted to have, and yet I’m still here. And then I found it all again. It happens. You learn your lessons and take your lumps. And it’s okay. I only exist in the present. The past is just a thing you choose to carry around for as long as you want. The future is just something that you arrange for yourself so that you have a reason to keep going.
Humanity is like a marathon relay race. You run as hard as you can as fast as you can, part of the pack, cheering on everyone who’s running along with you. But your leg of the race, whether you lead or trail, is finite. You have to know and accept that. There is an end to it. In the end, all that matters is that you were part of the race, in for the long run. You either move things forward or you just give up and whine and then stand on the sidelines as everyone else passes you by. I choose to keep running because I want to give the next guy as much of a head-start as I can. Because the people who passed the baton on to me kept running until they gave out and I can’t let them down.
Where is it all heading? I don’t know. I really, really wish I could just stick around forever to see. In the end, I’m just curious! That’s mostly it. There are so many fascinating mysteries about our existence, the nature of the universe, about what happened in the obscured past, about what’s to come in the future. I ask all these big questions too, but I know now: I know that I’ll never live to see the most of the answers. And yet, every day I read and learn more about it all, and I’m so grateful to live in an age where people are actually both capable and free to explore these things, and even more insane: that they deliver them to me, for free. That’s truly amazing. I very easily could have been born at nearly any other time in human history: in times where even daring to ask such questions could result in execution or, worse, indifference.
Instead, I live in an age when there are entire societies of people asking and answering, and they all do it because they just plain LOVE learning new things. And I’ve loved learning from them.
Where is it all going? Chances are, I’ll never know. I’ll pass off as many of my experiences and my favorite bits and answers I’ve figured out (some of them, inevitably, boldly wrong!) as I can to the next generation of runners, and then I’ll collapse. I’ll lie where I fell, and rest, and whenever and wherever that is, and I probably won’t ever know anything more. Instead, I try to remember all the people who fell behind me, before me. I loved them, and I miss them terribly. They never got to hear the music I’ve gloried in, who never got to see the things I’ve seen, who never got to learn the things I’ve learned. I wish I could have told them, but then, I didn’t know those things back then either. I hadn’t heard them yet. Instead, I went on, and I experienced what I could, beyond them, beyond the reach of their short lives… but all thanks to them.
And all I can think to feel about that is happy and at peace and thankful. Could you do that too, please? I won’t be around forever, and I want to believe that someone will carry on caring, anyhow.
Carl Sagan knew this. And he said it best.
“It’s not enough. And… it’s too much.” – Law & Order
“How strange it is to be anything at all.” -Neutral Milk Hotel