When I was a boy my mother brought me a gift. It was not a “normal” gift like a ball or bat or glove, you see, I was not a normal boy. It was a copy of the Rubaiyat.
“Think, in this battered Caravanserai
Whose portals are alternate night and day,
How Sultan after Sultan with his pomp
Abode his destined hour, and went his way.”
In this epicurean fantasy, Omar considers our place on the earth, and in time, and eloquently lays down an accurate and considered philosophy of life.
“Ah, make the most of what we yet may spend,
Before we too into the Dust descend;
Dust into Dust, and under Dust to lie
Sans Wine, sans Song, sans Singer, and–sans End! “
And I, as a youth, considered my time laid out before me as a fuse burning brightly in the night – I can see the flash of now, but through the glare the future escapes me and all I have is the charred remains of the past to assume what one day may be.
“Yet Ah, that Spring should vanish with the Rose!
That Youth’s sweet-scented manuscript should close!
The Nightingale that in the branches sang,
Ah, whence, and whither flown again, who knows! “
..and the spring did vanish, like the rose, and I learned, and I studied, and I lived, until life gave me a respite and I found the time to look around and to assess my place.
Oh, threats of Hell and Hopes of Paradise!
One thing at least is certain–This Life flies;
One thing is certain and the rest is Lies;
The Flower that once has blown for ever dies.
I found that my reward was not in the flash of the present, nor the charred remains of the past. It lay out there in the future beyond the vail, perhaps. I could have been disappointed by this. I was not. You see, we all must play the game, plan or hold, the fuse burns on…
“The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all your Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all your Tears wash out a Word of it.”
The uncertainty of life, the uncertainty of death, the uncertainty of the hereafter – it matters not.
“Alike for those who for To-day prepare,
And those that after some To-morrow stare,
A Muezzin from the Tower of Darkness cries
“Fools! your Reward is neither Here nor There.”
We have life. With it comes the promise of death. This is the only absolute. We may pray, or worry, we may pontificate, we may complain, but the fuse burns on. What remains after we are no longer, perhaps it is that, which matters the most. Each life changes the world, some greatly, some little, but each breath is a part of the wind. We all must find our place to make our mark, for this is as close as we shall ever get to immortality.