A few years ago, Nana and I were talking about how life was when she was a kid. It was a very different world on the farm where she grew up. In the middle of her story, Nana paused and looked at me and said, “It all goes by so fast, Matthew.” She was right. It does.
I’ve been reflecting on that quite a bit lately. The world seems to spin faster the older we get. There is even research to support it. Remember when a school year seemed like an eternity? Now, the years fall away faster than I ever anticipated. It’s another one of the demotions of growing old. In our earliest years, we are the protagonists of a novel all about us. The lives of everyone seem to revolve around us. Once we learn the truth, it seems pretty obvious, but we get an uneasy feeling about the whole affair.
I’m losing my recall of past events, and it’s disturbing. Those memories are the threads that weave together a narrative that is my life – it’s not all contained in my mind. It’s also in the minds of my friends, family, and even complete strangers. It’s that narrative that reminds us who we are. I’m getting older, and friends and relatives die more frequently now. Each time one leaves, they take their memories with them. By the end of our lives, it’s easy to understand how we can forget who we are without anyone to remind us.
A strong sense of self is the only antidote to disintegration. A solution that places us back at the center of the universe – not just a footnote or minor character, but the protagonist. Religion, especially Christianity, gives us that strong sense of self that we need to persevere in the face of disintegration. It’s a personal relationship with the creator of it all. Imagine a consciousness so enormous, we are all the main characters in this novel of the universe. It takes us back to a time when we were special and the center of the universe.
This mind trick is a poetic regression, done in order restore the feelings we had when we only weighed 20 lbs. It keeps us from exploring the true meaning of our oblivion. The irony is that if you can find meaning in an indifferent universe, you will discover God. It won’t be the kind of God that considers you special but rather a universe where every particle of matter or wave of energy is truly miraculous. The discovery that there is anything other than nothing is the real miracle. Life is the miracle. Enjoy it. It does go by so very fast.