"Only for Now," the closing number in the deliciously inappropriate puppet musical Avenue Q talks about how nothing lasts forever - not sadness, not your friends, and not your hair. They sing:
Each time you smile,
it'll only last awhile.
Life may be scary,
but it's only temporary.
Of course, most of us learned this truth at an early age, but it's any easy one to forget in the day-to-day task of living.
It has been easy, especially through my twenties, to feel as though the circumstances surrounding any situation are fixed, lasting, and of the utmost importance. I've indulged in moments of despair that turned out to be fleeting, and moved blindly through other moments whose beauty and significance I didn't take time to recognize.
But when I remember that every single thing is momentary - every relationship I will ever have, every breakfast I'll ever enjoy, every argument I'll have, or piece of music I'll hear - I see my problems in a clearer perspective and they seem smaller. Or I see beauty or feel joy, and just want to let it drop down into my bones.
Living every moment completely is impossible. The experience of being alive is too rich and consuming to take in everything all the time. If we did, nothing would ever be accomplished; we'd be paralyzed by the depth and immensity of it all. So we ignore some things, we have to. But I can, if I choose, look up from my iphone, stop rushing for a minute, and look at everything that is going by so quickly - and be a part of that instead.
Everything is fleeting and everything will end. I'm trying to live in such a way that all of this ephemera will add up to a satisfying ending. I know that the actual ending is ultimately out of my control, but I hope that everything along the way will make the end feel right.
Favorite author Dave Eggers says it best:
And we will be ready, at the end of every day will be ready, will not say no to anything, will try to stay awake while everyone is sleeping, will not sleep, will make the shoes with the elves, will breathe deeply all the time, breathe in all the air full of glass and nails and blood, will breathe it and drink it, so rich, so when it comes we will not be angry, will be content, tired enough to go, gratefully, will shake hands with everyone, bye, bye, and then pack a bag, some snacks, and go to the volcano.
From A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
Original illustration by Isabella Rotman