Fundamentals: Everything Ends

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The one absolute certainty, the one thing we know, is death.

So of course we spend most of our lives trying to run or hide from it, because certainty is terrifying. We pretend that some aspect of the self survives death (which of course we all know instinctively isn’t true, hence why we mourn death more intensely than any other departure or separation), we pretend that we ourselves are immortal, or that something eternal exists–a perfect eternal state of bliss somewhere in the past or future or sideways from the everyday world of change and time and death.

And we do this knowing it’s false, because of the essential tragedy of the human condition, the need for unconditional love. We need to believe that love–some kind of love, be it familial or fraternal or romantic–is forever, but of course it never is; if nothing else it ends with the death of the lover. So we convince ourselves that there’s a way out, either a way to shed the need to be loved or a way to find something eternal. We lie to ourselves that there might be things without beginning or end, that there might be such a thing as “perfect.” All the while watching people die, endeavors fail, institutions fall, civilizations collapse.

But this doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Yes, everything we build must someday crumble. Yes, the day will come when the last person who knew you personally dies, and with them all direct memory of you vanishes from this Earth. Yes, even if you become a Shakespeare or an Alexander or a Siddhartha, sooner or later you will end up an Ozymandias.

But it also means that every corrupt and restraining authority will someday fall, that every unfair rule will someday cease to be enforced, that every bully’s strength will someday fail. It doesn’t matter what revolution you desire; wait long enough and the object of your rebellion will fall, if not in your lifetime than at some future point.

Nothing lasts forever, which means everything is always changing. Surely some of that change has to be for the better, at least some of the time, right?

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