Making sense of that which makes no sense

by Tommi Avicolli Mecca

Nothing lasts forever. That may not be an original thought, but how often do we really think about it? We go about our busy lives, our routines, day after day, year after year, as if they will never end. 

They do. At some point. Sometimes when we least expect it. A sudden heart attack. An accident. It’s all over in the blink of an eye. Or we linger on for months, years, suffering and yet so many times clinging to that desperate hope that we’ll recover, be as we were. We can never be as we were. That moment is past. Where it went is anybody’s guess.

It exists in our memory, wherever that is. Deep in our brains. Electric impulses connecting the information that our senses gathered. The sights, the sounds, the smells, the chemical reactions that are our emotions. But the great love that we swore would be eternal, that we sacrificed for and maybe even gave up everything for, one day becomes a mere blip on the radar of our lives and we’re left wondering whether it was all worth the pain.

The rocks wear down. The forests turn to desert sands. The cities we build, no matter what materials we use or how much we fortify them, become mere dust. We measure it all with time. That was then, this is now, something else will be tomorrow. Is there really any distinction between the three? As far as I can see, there is no present, only a past and future. For as soon as I say, “this is the present,” it’s become the past. Where is the present? Missing in action. Sometimes I feel as if I am falling down a bottomless chasm from a point in the past and into an uncertain future. When I hit bottom, I die.

I don’t get it. This impermanence. What’s the point of it all? Why does life emerge from the soil, the oceans, the blue planet spinning around a sun on the edge of the Milky Way just to have its 15 minutes and then vanish? Did that happen on Mars? Was there, once long ago, an atmosphere and water to sustain life? Did it all change with time and now all that was, all the glory of ancient civilizations, are vanished without a trace? Is that Earth’s fate, too? 

We’re such a small thing. Our planet. Everything we know. Way smaller than minuscule. A speck in the Milky Way which is a speck in the vast seemingly endless universe of galaxies and planets. How many Milky Ways would fit on the head of a universal pin?

Nobody has ever come up with an explanation for our impermanence that satisfies me. None of the world’s religions. None of the great philosophers. 

I’m left on my own to try and make sense of a senseless world.

Views: 104

Comment by Safe Bet's Amy on May 13, 2015 at 8:23am

Feeling a bit fragile today, Tommi?

As for that whole making "sense of a senseless world" thing?  Why?  It don't change nothin'!   It's better to yell, scream and fight for a better future than accept the present.  You remember that "Saint" Harvey said, "Hope will never be silent.", right?

Comment by Tommi Avicolli Mecca on May 13, 2015 at 8:28am

Yeah, fragile's a good word for it. I'm always going to fight for a better future, but sometimes it just gets me, this thing called existence. Just needed to get it all out of my system before I leave for work. I deal with things by writing about them. Some people go to shrinks. I pour it out on a page. The curse of being a writer. Or the blessing, depending on your perspective.

Comment by JMac1949 Memories on May 13, 2015 at 8:40am

Religions and philosophy don't  stand up very well in the face of physics, chemistry, geology and biology.  If there is any sense to be found in the ever changing cosmos, it's not in the macro perspective but in the never ending mostly undetectable subatomic processes that bring about those changes.  After over fifty years of struggle and contemplation I've come to the conclusion to surrender to the process and do the best I can by myself and others; or as Hillel the Elder succinctly put it, ""If I am not for myself who is for me? And being for my own self, what am 'I'? And if not now, when?" and "That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow. That is the whole Torah; the rest is the explanation; go and learn."

Comment by koshersalaami on May 13, 2015 at 11:39am

One of the functions of religion is to posit that our bodies alone are impermanent. That gives people comfort. 

Comment by Jerry DeNuccio on May 14, 2015 at 2:09pm

One could argue that without impermanence there would be no motivation to excel, that excellence requires limit; one could argue that impermanence makes us responsive to beauties large and small and prompts us to engage the world, that it spurs us to build, create, erect monuments that extend us beyond the circle of our impermanence.  For Emerson, impermanence is actually a sign of transcendence: he says impermanence "could never "become sensible to us but by contrast to some principle of fixture or stability in the soul," that "eternal generation" carries on, but "the eternal generator abides." 


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