I’m listening to a little girl, perhaps four years old, learning language, using an annoying plastic tutor. We’re on opposite sides of a rail carriage. ” Mum, what’s t- w- ah?” “ TWO.” “Kuh, uh, puh,” “ mum whats kuh, uh , puh?”, “CUP”. The struggle is challenging, but she is excited, delighted with her discoveries, her growing abilities. the other train passengers are patient, but uncomfortable, having to put up with the Americanized computer generated tutor.
The child is bright, precocious, and slightly whiney. I wonder what sort of girl she will turn into, how her life will look in 15 years time, whether the journeys she takes will be similar to the journey today. Whether trains will look similar, how clothing will change, hairstyles, whether people will all be younger looking than they are now, as we 50 year olds are now, compared with my grandmothers generation. We look like teenagers, dressed brightly, hair dyed, features enhanced. Perhaps old age will be a thing of the past, with everyone living their life- spans in a sort of suspended middle age, until they die. Surely we will die in the future. Accepting our mortality is one of the defining attributes of being human. Living in the knowledge of eventual extinction allows us to feel the life we live. to have a sense of belonging to a now, to a present, and to embrace it. I can’t understand why death is a subject that people have such pain in considering. It seems to be a taboo, in a way that sex once was, and is no longer. it is the state we are all running from, distancing ourselves with distractions. to relax fully, accept death. Religion allows the mind to delude itself that death is not really death, just a transition. Maybe, maybe not, but even if death is just transition, would that matter? Does the butterfly know it was once a pupa? I don’t know. I know nothing. All I think, is that we have the present, the now, and in understanding that, it becomes more precious, more important that I act accordingly. So that the values I consider critical to well being are lived today, in the now, within all the constraints that now brings. I never look to tomorrow. There is none.
Although I am not religious, in any manner, I am deeply attracted to the spiritual aspect of human nature, and many religions share values that I hold dear, many religions contain wisdom and literature that inspire and comfort me. This piece happens to come from the Bible. That is not it’s importance to me, it is the beauty of the language, and the message which resonates.
Language can both illuminate, and obscure. I love that about it. It is alive, vibrant and pleasure giving. That is why, when I hear a child learning her sounds, it makes ME wonder at the marvel of something we use everyday, unthinkingly, comfortably, sometimes mindlessly.
One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh:
but the earth abideth for ever.
The sun also ariseth, and the sun goeth down, and hasteth to his place where he arose.
The wind goeth toward the south, and turneth about unto the north; it whirleth about continually, and the wind returneth again according to his circuits.
All the rivers run into the sea; yet the sea is not full; unto the place from whence the rivers come, thither they return again