Race Against TimeTue 02 December 2014 by Rick Gilmore
Let's be honest with ourselves. We're all dying. Yes, some go about it faster than others. But, it's not a race. Nor is is the opposite of a race, even though most strive to approach the finish line as slowly as possible.
It's not a race. And yet, we're all in the same stadium. Only the color of our uniform distinguishes us. We count laps and occasionally speed; everyone jumps hurdles, but not always the same ones. Who really knows when the bell lap begins or who's staffing the finish line? No officiating body governs this sport.
And while we're being honest, let's admit we're liars, too. I mean that we have any inkling about what lies beyond the final tape.
We have no idea what happens to our conscious being, for example. None. And, it can't be known, because we can't go there and back again. It's like crossing a black hole's event horizon. Astrophysicists say we'd be ripped to bits by the intense gravity, unable to return. So, while there is no way to know what happens to our conscious being, many like to imagine that there is some sort of after life. What that after life is like and for whom is the subject of intense speculation and in too many cases conflict. But, no one really knows.
On the other hand, we know quite specifically what happens to our physical selves. They are transformed, quickly or slowly, into other things. Eventually, we become other living things. Yet, even before our (next) transformation we are already teeming communities of trillions of genetically identical cells cohabitating with trillions of geneticaly diverse ones. Even before our transformation we are out of many, one. In our next existence, we constitute the anatomy and physiology of untold multitudes.
This cycle has existed for billions of years. It will continue as long as life on Earth persists. This particular myself may never fly, but some portion can one day fuel the hummingbird or bind the dragonfly wing. The cycle of transformation over billions of years connects us with a natural infinity that seems miraculous to the mortal mind. I find comfort in this.
I find comfort also in the notion that the spirit enjoys a life after. Like our physical selves, it lives on through others, forged in the memories of those we touch with words and deeds. Yes, the actions of some grant them an enduring notoriety, but choosing kindness yields far richer rewards. Isn't saying knowing you only this much left me wanting more the highest compliment we can pay?
Good-bye, my friend. I wish I knew you more. I will celebrate your spirit in the memories I share in the company of others, and I will look for signs of your transformation in the springtime, in the meadow's green and on the wing. I remain on the track, jogging around the sun, wishing you were still in the lane next to me helping make the hurdles seem smaller.