Inevitabilities

When I was in my early twenties, I truly understood the meaning of “everything has its end.” Both good and bad. Since then I have always been aware of how the happiness I may be feeling at one time, may turn into sadness any minute. As a result, I’ve learned to treasure happy times, and to look forward to the end of my troubles. This has worked quite well for me over the years.

Yet at that moment when I am going through a difficult time, it always seems as if the end is taking forever to come.

Like it is now.

Though I know I’ll be able to sincerely smile and laugh again, for now faking it will have to do. This is part of the process. Real happiness will come again, perhaps in a day or two, a week or two, a month or two. Or a year.

But for now, patience.

May you have patience to bear whatever burden you have on your shoulders today. ūüíē

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On Words and Immortality

sonnet 18

I personally know a few people who look forward to the discovery of making humans immortal. Although I’d be very happy for and proud of humanity should they make such an achievement, I don’t think I will be around long enough for that, and I don’t really wish to become physically immortal.

Having recently seen someone I love suffer, I cannot see the point of prolonging one’s life if one is unable to function normally, both physically and mentally. It is heartbreaking to see a fellow human being’s condition deteriorate like that, especially when it is one you hold close to your heart. It makes you wish you were suffering instead of them.

So, no. Immortality in the physical sense is not for me.

I have said before that I would probably reconsider if life could be painless, and one could remain young and healthy. But I think that is too big a dream for humanity — one I find extremely hard to hope for.

However, some people have successfully immortalized themselves and others they cared¬†about thru arts and literature. There are too many works and artists and writers to mention them all, but one¬†poem that promises immortality thru poetry that has really stuck with me since I first read it¬†as a student is¬†Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18.

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date:
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimm’d;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance, or nature’s changing course, untrimm’d;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st;
Nor shall Death brag thou wander’st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou grow’st;
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

The first two quatrains of Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18 explains why the speaker cannot possibly liken the subject (supposedly a young man but some people insist it’s a woman; it doesn’t matter to me) to a summer’s day. The third quatrain explains further how time nor death cannot rid the subject of his/her beauty.The couplet promises eternal life to the subject, saying, for as long as people can read this poem about him/her, he/she will always live.

And the poet has been proven true to his promise. We are still reading about the young person’s beauty. You are reading about it now as you are reading my post.

To me that IS immortality.

How (in what way) would you like to be immortalized? 

On living, loving and leaving

shakespeare1

Sonnet 73 by William Shakespeare

That time of year thou may’st in me behold¬†
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold, 
Bare ruin’d choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.¬†
In me thou see’st the twilight of such day,¬†
As after sunset fadeth in the west, 
Which by-and-by black night doth take away,
Death’s second self, that seals up all in rest.¬†
In me thou see’st the glowing of such fire¬†
That on the ashes of his youth doth lie, 
As the death-bed whereon it must expire 
Consum’d with that which it was nourish’d by.¬†
   This thou perceivest, which makes thy love more strong,
   To love that well which thou must leave ere long.

 

There has been much debate on the meaning of this sonnet, particularly the last couplet:

   This thou perceivest, which makes thy love more strong,
   To love that well which thou must leave ere long.

What is the young man supposed to eventually leave before long: his friend or his own youth?

I will not join in the debate, but I am quoting the sonnet here because I was reminded of it (and John Donne’s Sonnet 10) twice¬†today: first, when I read this poem by John White called Laughing about it¬†; second, when I read¬†Temple Grandin’s tribute to Oliver Sacks, who also wrote a moving article¬†reflecting on his relationship with his Orthodox family and the Sabbath.

Whether the speaker meant that the young man had to leave his friend or his youth, to me, is not the point, rather that the knowledge that one is leaving something valuable makes one appreciate it or love it even more.

My first real understanding of this line happened one summer day when my best friend and I stood in a forest, listening to the sound of the leaves of the trees as the breeze was passing through, and I said it was beautiful I wish it could last forever; and he said it was beautiful simply because it was not going to last.

(Not long after that my best friend left, and for a while, that memory always made me cry. But with time, I have learned to call on that memory, and it just brings a beautiful feeling.)

If we truly love someone or something –a place, a person, a pet or life itself — ¬†the knowledge of our imminent leaving of it/them will make our love for it/them even stronger.

Perhaps it is the best way to live every minute of our short life here: to always remember that we won’t be here forever, that we are always about to leave. Perhaps then we can love wholeheartedly, not only for a minute or an hour or for a day, but for a lifetime.