Sunday, March 19, 2006

Tempus Fugit (Et Nos Fugimus In Illus?)

The realities thrusts in your face from time to time by life are not always palatable. Indeed, sometimes they have all the appeal of a steaming turd. For some time now I have been haunted by the recurrent thought that, in all probability, my life will be of absolutely no consequence whatsoever in the grand scheme of things.

I will live, I will love, I will work and I will die; but after that is all done and dusted, nothing will remain. There will be nothing that will endure; nothing that will survive me; no scar on the face of posterity that people might contemplate long after its creator has ceased to be. Nothing that is either of me, from me or because of me shall remain. Nothing.

This is the possibility that I most fear and, moreover, a possibility that, with each passing moment that I fail to do anything of any lasting consequence, becomes just that little bit more real. It is the burgeoning reality slowly shaped by the action of continuously passing time on the great hunk of hypothetical possibility that was my life at birth. When all the flimsy, sandstone frivolities of my existence have been washed away in the streams of history, what will remain? Could there be a hard core of strong and sturdy stuff somewhere with in me that might resist, that might persist, and that might even change the direction of the flow, if only by a fraction of a degree? Probably not, but surely it must be everybody’s dream.

I remember reading about Rousseau and the ideas that he set down in his Social Contract. Rousseau was already dead when his war cry against oppression gave birth to a mutant child – the French revolution. It was a revolution that tore through the status quo and irreparably altered our beliefs about power and its exercise. It will not be forgotten – for better or for worse – and nor will Rousseau. His big idea gave him a form of immortality; in reality, probably the only form that is really open to any human being.

As I flit from blog to blog – like a fly flitting from wall to wall – sampling each little world before moving on, I feel overawed by what I find. I see such a frenzy of creative energy everywhere. I see people crafting beautiful stories, left to float in cyberspace for others to chance upon by happy accident. Moments in peoples’ lives crystallized and annotated for others to explore. I see people sharing thoughts and observations on the world around them and, in so doing, asking important and incisive questions about why it should be ordered in this, and not some other, way. I see people striving to find a big idea, like Rousseau's, that will make things better and joining forces with others to help them find their way intellectually. It’s an amazing thing to be allowed to watch and, indeed, even participate in.

Nonetheless, I can’t help feeling a little depressed when I see how gracefully and concisely some other people are capable of expressing their thoughts. I read about a American soldier dealing with the reality of his loved-one leaving for war and being overwhelmed by the possibility that he may not return. I thought it was beautiful. And I knew I would not be capable of writing anything like it. I couldn’t help but wonder how long it would endure for as an idea in the ether of the internet, waiting for somebody else to find it. Could it outlast its author, hidden on some server somewhere, only resurface to affect some other, unsuspecting else? I honestly have no idea. OK, so it wasn’t an idea that was going to change the world or spawn a revolution, but what does that really matter in the end? As long as we leave some mark, any mark, then perhaps we have had our little victory over time, even if it will always win the war.


Blogger Earl Jackson said...

Funny, I suppose a lot of us have a post entitled 'Tempus Fugit' on our blogs. I have one on my own, in fact. It was one of my first, actually.
The sense that we're in some way in a race against Time is an inevitable by-product of our mortality.
They say Time is the only teacher who kills all her students. I don't know, though; we had this 'Mr Maidment' at our school...
I like your blog and will be looking at it and linking to it.

4:58 am  
Blogger The Venial Sinner said...


I imagine many people write these things because they sense that their life is slipping by and they feel like they should record a part of it somehow.

Of course,we could all just have posts entitled 'Time Flies' but that would sound so much less intellectualised...

8:57 am  
Blogger Shiny Happy Person said...

Good christ, are you me?

Clearly not, as you actually write very eloquently and are one of the people whose blogs I look at and think "fuck, why can't I have a brain that does that?"

See? Even in trying to reply to your lovely, thoughtful, insightful post I can only respond in obscenities and/or words of one syllable.

Anyway,nice post. Nice in a soul-destroying sort of way. I empathise.

8:36 pm  
Blogger The Venial Sinner said...

Ah, we may yet do something great - the both of us.

Anyway, I always rather enjoy your posts - very thoughtful and well written - and, having looked at your comments, so do plenty other people.

9:50 pm  
Blogger Kate said...

Sic transit gloria mundi, eh?

8:33 pm  
Blogger The Venial Sinner said...

Tunc vivamus, mea Kate, atque amemus!

Now enough of the Latin.

10:16 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm sorry to read that you think so little of yourself and feel that you'll not make a difference in the big scheme of life.What with you being a doctor what will mere mortals like ourselves think.Least you help make people better and sometimes save their lives.If you dont make a big Rousseau idea then maybe some patient you've help save will, little cogs turn big wheels.

7:20 pm  
Blogger The Venial Sinner said...

I don't have a particularly low opinion of myself. That said, being a doctor doesn't make you anymore worthy as a person and I don't want to live vicariously through my patients.

9:31 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

But, why is it that you so passionately want to do something of lasting importance? Hardly anybody does, and those mostly by accident, and just as often bad lasting importance as good lasting importance at the final tally. I should think that the number of people who have wanted to do something of good lasting importance, and tried to, and succeeded at the time of their death, and would still be succeeding if re-assessed (say) 100 years later, is miniscule. And of those, the ones who had an idea that this was what they had achieved before they died.....almost none? none?

11:53 am  
Blogger The Venial Sinner said...

You are probably correct to say that the number of people who have managed to influence the world for the better and have been aware of their influence during their life is small, but then all the more reason it covet it for its rarity. Besides, I don't think it really matters if you understand the full impact of what you are doing while you are doing it, just that you do it.

3:49 pm  
Blogger vegas said...

Leave the NHS and become an artist/sculptor/chef/something creative that you have a talent for.

8:01 pm  
Blogger The Venial Sinner said...

Something creative I have a talent for, you say...hmmmmmm, now therein lies the problem.

1:11 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey mate, cool blog! I wanted to become a doctor when I was at junior high but became a journalist instead - I don't think I could do all you do anyway! Working in Ontario now as a journalist :)

But major downer on the meaning of life there, man! I figure either it all matters or none of it does, no inbetweeners!

I believe God's creative love through Jesus Christ gives us purpose, and is transforming my life, now and for all 'time', into a big heart :)

If you can't _see_ a point to it all, don't give up _looking_, but try using ur other 4 senses as well, doctor! :)

Pete Philips

5:14 am  
Blogger The Venial Sinner said...

Thanks, mate.

It's strange: I don't see what I wrote as particularly downbeat at all. It might have started a little depressively but it ended on a lighter note, I thought.

Unfortunately, God and me don't go together so I fear the path to joy via religious enlightenment is not for me.

9:57 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's always tricky finding an appropriate introduction for something like this- 'hey there', 'what up, my 'dawg', 'i want you to die'?

Fortunately, the latter is not applicable to my feelings in relation to you or this post. If it's of any consolation, this post has basically detailed what I, and almost certainly, every other single thinking human being around, feels and thinks, and so because of your written words I find it somewhat comforting and yet also intimidating (due to the fact that each single one of us wants some sort of lasting moment or glory once we're gone- holy crap, what a challenge) to know that I share the same thought processes and gut feelings with my fellow civilians.

'Venial sinner'? I'll just refer to that name in my thoughts when I think of everyone who, like me, wishes to make a lasting impact on the world and everything around us. Maybe there's your mark, right there, huh? Perhaps not physically leaving behind anything, but allowing your words to travel from mind to mind across the globe and maybe through time. Surely that's of some merit, no? Enough of the sentiments, now. I'll leave you to it.


- Vinnie

11:03 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Venial Sinner,
Perhaps reading Eckhart Tolle's, The Power of Now, will alter your perception on, not only TIME, but also on your identity (false and true) within the concepts of time. Have fun!

4:45 pm  

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