Life is but a vapor, a mist in the wind. Life is a journey, not a destination. There have been innumerable attempts at the explaining and expositing the meaning of life. It is elusive. We grasp for metaphors. We often come up empty-handed.
I have thought, in recent years, that life is like a race track, and each car is a different part of our lives–one relationships, another education, another career, still another spirituality, and everything in between–they all are represented. But no two cars can be winning at one time. I may put all my energies into scholarship at one moment, at the expense of every other “car” in the race. To focus on my girlfriend would be to take the focus off of my job, if only for a moment, or an evening. Nevertheless, the possibility of being caught in the thought of her whilst performing any other task would also prove out this metaphor: only one car can be winning. There are pit stops; there must be. But you get right back in the race again.
This metaphor was the product of a very busy time in my life, a time of great accomplishment and great failure. But it has had it’s day.
Today my girlfriend presented to me a new metaphor: Life is both long and short. It’s long because we’re always waiting, to turn 13, 16, 18, 21, to graduate college, to marry, to have children, and grandchildren. We are always looking forward to something, and once we “arrive” at that mile marker we look ahead to the next. But life is also short. Having reached a few mile markers myself, I can look back and see how quickly the once anticipated future has become the fondly remembered past.
I like this view. Not only does it allow you to look forward and press on, to look back and sigh, but having done that it helps you also to live in the now. It gives perspective. It makes now more valuable, more precious, of more import. This very second was once a moment I looked forward to and will soon be a time I look back on. I must live a life worthy, now, of the hope I hold for the future. I must hold this moment with the same gratitude and dignity that I hold my history.
You are who you are by what you have done;
And what you do now forms who you become.
Life is a precious gift that we must cherish and share. That truly is the long and short of it.