Needless to say that time is the ultimate warrior against life. It is. We, humans live as if the end will be the big giant supernova and that remains a few billion years away. That it would be a big whoosh of collapsing dust into a black hole spreading our dust into the universe through its glorious accretion disk jets. Alas, the vision is sorely in need of revision. The four score years haunt the vessel that inherits the wide eyed immortality thoughts. No, it is a simple and tested hypothesis, observed over millennia and validated in its entirety. Life ends whether in a flash or with a whimper, it ends.
Humans are adept at visualizing grand obscure corridors of endless hallucinatory thoughts, of this or that. You know, like the ones we all have. Buy a lottery ticket and become an instant millionaire, live in palatial homes and travel with the jet setters, eating caviar and drinking aged wine to perfection, whatever that means. Yet we still inhabit the same shell with all its confines and a mind filled with the baggage of experiences. The collected images of the past, embellished through the lens of time, with fancy and incredulity foster and remake the person we are, for better or worse. No wealth or grandeur can escape the shackles of a buried past. We live therefore within ourselves, as us. And no hope will shake the limits of our destiny.
This one fine day, an elderly man with an eye towards perfection and a nose for a tale, held my interest. He was confined to his physical limits from arthritic joints, a stiffness that was pervasive in each movement. Yet he was as real in thought as you or I. He sat quietly without so much as the sound of his breath adding to the noise pollution around. My restlessness in my erect vertical stance leaning against the wall must have breached his sense of comfort at some level.
“Tough day?” he asked.
“Yes a little.” I replied.
“That is life.” He said quietly.
I looked up and smiled at his frail frame affixed in the shiny wheelchair. There was concern on his forehead and in his eyes that were weighted by years of wisdom could perceive through the cataracts of time and infirmity when hurt echoes within another’s silent flesh.
“What is it?” he said and after a pause added, “May I ask?”
“My patient is not doing well.” I replied.
“We are all humans, with limited abilities. Nature has her own sets of rules that defy anything we can think of or consider. We do our best and then let the Grace of God take over. We live and we die, and there hangs a tale. Nothing that is will be, everything will perish with the mind. We just do our best!” Never have words with such simplicity or clarity eased a burden as those did that afternoon. Something ticked. Comprehension! I still remember the echo of those words, expressed with the same lilting inflection as he had said them, so many years ago. Wisdom indeed is the paradise for the open mind of an experienced age.
We look for perfections where hopeless approximations are the rule. We look for science where art would better approximate and vice versa. We are forever looking for “something” other than what we have. Clearly something is wrong or right? That pot of gold at the end of the rainbow is what Leprechauns are made of and 1 in 170 million chance of winning the big bonanza is out of reach for the remaining, yet hope springs eternal to find, to discover, to invent, to redeem, to prosper, to live.
Even with our best intellectually crafted approximations in face of what Nature has in store, we still manage to change the world incrementally in small quantum hops as a different place for all. For better or worse, that is what humans do. We are destined to the limits of our virtues, vices and deeds. We are an interesting species. After all we are the “quintessence of dust” approximating the angels on one hand and the devil on the other. We are constantly bouncing off the firewall of Perfection.
"After all we are all humans doomed to live a life of Hopeless Approximations."