The stirring crossfire that just transpired on my wrap-around black leather couch has me pondering our place in this universe, and more specifically, wondering whether I will be remembered 10, 20, 100 years from now. As my co-pilot, Alex "see, absorb, experience" Rivas just pointed out, there aren't many figures who lived 100 years ago whose names I know. I may bask in the benevolence of their institutions, or feed from the sap of their success (metaphor? you tell me), but if you would present me with a phone book from 1907 I would be hard-pressed to humanize even a handful from that name bounty. Living in New York thrusts the dilemma forward with more immediacy: are we all drowning in the vastness? And, if we are, is that necessarily a bad thing, or is it simply a way to semanticize and quantify a universal inevitablity with no inherent value, good or bad?
There are those who see meaning in patterns. From mathematicians to philosophers to chemists to musicians, entire populations decode the sequences that structure how we live. Losing one's identity is a repeated pattern that, as far as anyone can tell, takes hold not long after one passes. There are those who lose it before they die (that is, as far as I can discern, one of the greatest prison-related tragedies). There is signifcance in that pattern, insofar as life and existence seem to lose their ineffability and, thusly marginalized, they infect us with a preternatural obsession with reinfusing them with meaning. What we want from God is not much different than what we want from ourselves or those around us: a significance weighty enough that we can convince (or delude, depending on who we/you are) ourselves that what we do has staying power, and will continue to orbit in this stratosphere beyond what we can ever know.
Achievements have a very short half-life. Even the most lofty, worldly accomplishments--Nobel Prizes, Olympic medals, space travel, otherwordly wealth--decompose rather quickly. Try to name three Olympic medalists from the 1920's, or 5 nobel prize winners from the same span. And as they erode, those who accomplished those feats erode doubly fast, erased from the unpenned universal history that once featured them so prominently.
But is that really the worst thing? After all, as our virtues are lost, so are our sins, our bad relationships, our angst, worry, and war. If everybody is a saint at their eulogy, we must be transcendent just before the moment at which we are forgotten forever. And if our souls really do live on past our deaths, then imagine the bliss when your eternal essence can glimpse a world in which, even for a few moments, your failings and shortcomings have nothing to do with how people construct your reality. And even after you're forgotten, your soul lives on forever, fated to an enchanting playground with everybody else who has been long-forgotten.
Stay supernal, souls