nothing lasts

I don’t know why we long so for permanence, why the fleeting nature of things so disturbs. With futility, we cling to the old wallet long after it has fallen apart. We visit and revisit the old neighborhood where we grew up, searching for the remembered grove of trees and the little fence. We clutch our old photographs. In our churches and synagogues and mosques, we pay to the everlasting and eternal. Yet, in every nook and cranny, nature screams at the top of her lungs that nothing lasts, that it is all passing away. All that we see around us, including our own bodies, is shifting and evaporating and one day will be gone. Where are the one billion people who lived and breathed in the year 1800, only two short centuries ago?

The evidence seems overly clear. In the summer months, mayflies drop by the billions within twenty-four hours of birth. D5rone ants perish in two weeks. Daylilies bloom and then wilt, leaving dead, papery stalks. Forests burn down, replenish themselves, then disappear again. Ancient stone temples and spires flake in the salty air, fracture and fragment, dwindle to spindly nubs, and eventually dissolve into nothing. Coastlines erode and crumble. Glaciers slowly but surely grind down the land. One, the continents were joined. Once the air was ammonia and methane. Now it is oxygen and nitrogen. In the future, it will be something else. The sun is depleting its nuclear fuel. And just look at our bodies. In the middle years and beyond, skin sags and cracks. Eyesight fades. Hearing diminishes. Bones shrink and turn brittle.

–          “The Temporary Universe,” The Accidental Universe The World you Thought You Knew by Alan Lightman
two birds

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