Eternity’s Yardstick ~ BitterSweetLife

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Eternity’s Yardstick

I had the thought that eternity could be useful.

This conclusion is not groundbreaking. Since earth arrived, millions of people have reached the same consensus: that eternity is a priceless commodity, and ought to be pursued. They arrive either at this agreement or its inverse: that eternity doesn’t exist, and ought to be despaired over—which is in a way the same thing. Very few conclude that eternity is a mundane, stuffy contingency, and completely irrelevant. Many people live this way, of course, but not as a result of conscious thought. Rather, it’s unknowing naïveté that relegates “eternity” to the realm of “huh?”

I’d go so far as to say that anyone, if he thinks about it deeply, eventually recognizes that eternity is overwhelmingly important (if not “true”) and comes to the same conclusion I have (or its inverse; see above). All this goes to say, I realize I’m writing nothing profound.

Yeah, eternity could be useful. And not just on any one level, but on every.

:: This is one of those authorial junctures where you pause and wonder which doorway to walk through. There are a lot of them. Each of the doors are smooth-grained and attractive, with large, comfortable knobs, a number of which you finger thoughtfully. No real urgency… There aren’t any signs saying EXIT or CAUTION… In the end, you just open the one on the left, about halfway down, the one that catches your eye. ::

How about eternity as a yardstick?

As a comparative standard, eternity is often overlooked. We look ahead or we look up, both fitting impulses. But we ought to consider its “referential” value here and now as well—looking inside, looking around. This is useful.

“Usefulness” in this sense would be like measuring yourself by an unseen ideal—say, Einstein—one to which you will never measure up, but one that inspires just the same. There will never be another or Bach or Plato, but there could be someone else—a Polanyi or a Copeland. It’s in this way that heroes haunt us.

Likewise, in the flickering present of a life, eternity has much to say—like a great one, long dead but still making his presence felt, intimidating live artists by his very existence. And yet it’s different. The question is not so much “Will I measure up to one particular hero?” as “Am I living heroically? Is my life casting hero-shadows?”

Because what’s begun here continues. Eternity looms ahead and behind us, unspooling forever, undulating like a mathematic line, a ceaseless parade of causes and effects taken to their ultimate completions—which are growing “more completer” all the time. Eternity washes nearby, a colossal ocean flowing around our time-bound island. Like a great song or a great book or a great artist, it overshadows our exertions…outside our knowledge; not lesser, but deeper, older, irrevocable.

What’s begun here and now, said this instant, lived out yesterday, continues. The line is relentlessly lengthening, running inevitably toward the edge of the map. And then?

Life beyond the edges. Everything changes, but one thing stays the same: What's begun now continues.



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4 comments:

. : A : . said...

I do agree with you on this post. I really like the way you laid it out in this para,

"Because what’s begun here continues. Eternity looms ahead and behind us, unspooling forever, undulating like a mathematic line, a ceaseless parade of causes and effects taken to their ultimate completions—which are growing “more completer” all the time. Eternity washes nearby, a colossal ocean flowing around our time-bound island. Like a great song or a great book or a great artist, it overshadows our exertions…outside our knowledge; not lesser, but deeper, older, irrevocable."

Thanks for this Ariel.

daydreamer said...

I'm still smiling after reading this. It takes me away from the traffic jam of thoughts in my head, and it's really comforting. Great writing and thankyou for sharing:)

Dr Zen said...

Does it? Perhaps it has always been.

Ariel said...

Care to footnote your comment, Dr. Zen? I'm trying to figure out what exactly may have "always been."

 

Culture. Photos. Life's nagging questions. - BitterSweetLife