Proximity Of Life


Roaming through an old city like Rome and realizing the speck in time I exist in, I reflect upon the significance and short lived reality of my life (don’t worry, what comes next won’t sound so depressing). Although a lifetime feels like a lot of time, within history's context, my lifetime is nothing more than a mere speck-- nearly invisible amongst the decades of generations prior and amongst the decades of years to come.

Rome’s grand Coliseum is a memory in history left in ruins, but to those who lived it I am sure it was so much more. Not just for its scale— what I mean is size in this context— as that is still somewhat evident in the ruins left behind, but imagine the scale of what the coliseum once was in terms of the experiences which surrounded it—how the Coliseum was in operation in its glory days. The rampant activities back in the day, the thousands of people roaming in, out, and all through its grand structures. How much more was the experience of the coliseum back then? How different was the experience compared to the millions of tourists pouring in today? For the record, I am pretty sure a typical summer’s day wasn’t as smoldering hot as the one I experienced today. To that I say global warming is a very real thing, but that’s a topic for another time.

In my jaunt through Rome’s historic cityscape I reflected upon its history and my relevance within this wider context. I find myself asking questions. Questions with extreme relevance in my own consciousness, but within this new perspective, becomes such a minor consideration. Questions about how should I live this life? What am I destined or made to do in this life? What legacy will I leave in this world (or maybe none at all)? What is the meaning of my life? Such big questions tends to dawn on me, yet again such questions seem so small when placed against the true extent of history and time.

The question of scale then comes into question. Right now my life and my reality really only exists in my world. What I mean by that is my context of living. That is where I am in the world, what I do, my friends, my family, my environment, and all the components of my life which make it mine. Right now, it’s my travel to Europe. Another day it’s my life in Singapore and another elsewhere. What becomes clear when I interact with the idea of history is how small I am amongst the enduring length of history and the future. The questions then becomes: what is my life within this expansive context? What is the significance of my life with this perspective?

My answer is simple, what life is to me and how I live life then becomes even more important. How I see the world and value the world through my eyes becomes so critical to what’s significant in this moment in time. My eyes alone is what will see my life from a magnified perspective. Everyone else outside of myself will only see me as a speck in history, as a part of something much larger. I alone is what experience my life in the most immediate and intimate sense. No one else can understand the proximity of my life but me, so what is the point in living a life that's not mine? What's the point in living a life that belongs to someone else? How do I want my life to be within my proximity?