Meandering Toward Eternity

To be eternal is not to live through an endlessly long time, but to live through no time. It is not like writing every book in the world, or counting every number to infinity, but rather like writing a single word that implies all books, or thinking “one” not as the beginning of a series but as all numbers simultaneously. To be eternal is not to be very, very old, or very, very young, for young and old are relative terms implying a finite (i.e., measurable) continuum, whereas eternity is the absence of any continuum.

To live in time, by contrast, is to live in the absence of eternity. Hence, our human need to speak of eternity only in temporal tropes. Speech itself, after all, implies change, and therefore time, such that it may be used to represent eternity only figuratively — as the negation of itself — since in literal terms, it can only represent temporality, to which it belongs. Likewise, we, though material beings — and therefore changing, and hence in time — may live metaphorically, and in this way represent or approximate the eternal. 

To live with speed — the primary objective of our age — is to live as though afraid of running out of time, thus exaggerating time’s importance, which is to say its hold on life. The hurried life is the life immersed in time, and therefore in matter — the life appropriate to, and also causative of, our na├»ve materialism. On the other hand, to slow down, not through failing strength or lack of purpose but through deliberate choice, and in purposeful endeavor, is to live almost without reference to the finite continuum, and thus to represent eternity in temporal terms. This is to live in metaphorical eternity, if you will.


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