The River of Life by Thomas Campbell
The more we live, more brief appear
Our life’s succeeding stages:
A day to childhood seems a year,
And years like passing ages.
The gladsome current of our youth,
Ere passion yet disorders,
Steals lingering like a river smooth
Along its grassy borders.
But as the careworn cheek grows wan,
And sorrow’s shafts fly thicker,
Ye Stars, that measure life to man,
Why seem your courses quicker?
When joys have lost their bloom and breath
And life itself is vapid,
Why, as we reach the Falls of Death,
Feel we its tide more rapid?
It may be strange—yet who would change
Time’s course to slower speeding,
When one by one our friends have gone
And left our bosoms bleeding?
Heaven gives our years of fading strength
And those of youth, a seeming length,
Proportion’d to their sweetness.
Having passed into my 40s last year, I’ve started experiencing the shortening of days I often heard described by those senior in years to me. I imagine there is some physiological or psychological explanation for the shifting sense of time, but I must admit I love Campbell’s kind and poetic exegesis.
Regardless of how or why life’s succeeding phases tend to work out the way they do, I am confident that there is no harm in making the best of each and every moment, no matter how young or old, weak or strong, restricted or unlimited I may feel.
So I do in both good times and bad, on days when my vision is clear and on those when I can’t see beyond my own nose. I write these daily posts as an explorer would break twigs while pressing onward, deeper into the unknown and further into the mysteries of the forest so that others who will follow in the pursuit of truth might have signs to reassure them of their progress.
You are always more blessed than you presently assume yourself to be. You are always closer to the truth, to the answers, for as Robert Browning put it so eloquently:
Truth lies within ourselves: it takes no rise from outward things, whatever you may believe. There is an inmost center in us all, where truth abides in fullness and to Know rather consists in opening out a way whence the imprisoned splendor may escape than in effecting entry for light supposed to be without.
7 thoughts on “Indemnifying Fleetness”
As a man in my late 20’s, it is a privilege to be able to follow the examples of someone who is willing to lay the breadcrumbs for the trials and tribulations they have already seen and overcome. Your words do not do the work for me, but having the time to consider these things before I see them in day to day life gives me a great opportunity that many do not get.
I have found, as you also write, that the right answer lies down the path of doing your best and consistently raising the bar for what that means. This is not always easy, but as I experience the successes that this approach brings, I am further inspired to never settle for less.
Life is a precious and beautiful gift and responsibility. As we reach the forties, some people go through a mid-life crisis, trying to regain a feeling of freedom or purpose. However, usually the attempt is to work from the outside in. I’ve found that the simple statement “to give is to live” has always helped me to see the beauty of life appreciate the moments that I am here.
I am almost hitting my 40s and working through anxiety. I find though that the anxiety seems to fade or go away completely if I follow “to give is to live”. It takes me out of myself.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Radiance is its own reward!
I do find words such as yours reassuring. As I move through the stages of my life each seems to have rather definitive junctures where the next one begins to appear and weaves from the passing remnants of the last. Tapestry is an apt analogy for my life as I feel the texture, strength, color and variety of the threads from each era create an entirety that I am left with. Through its measure I am warmed and resigned at the same time. I loved the poem. With age time does seem accelerated but with it too a moment often feels condensed and thick with layers of meaning. Joy and bittersweet recognition of the fleeting time are often simultaneous. Beautiful post, thank you.
I don’t know, but personally, life’s adventures take on a different texture in the passing of the ages. It is far more adventuresome in subsequent years if you manage to get your head screwed on right and your heart sewn up correctly, for there are so many contradictions and heartaches in today’s world that it’s a wonder anyone can get through all that in one piece!
But if you do, if you are fortunate enough to pass through all that, not having become cynical or withdrawn, then and only then does the deeper adventure begin. If you have enough strength left, if you keep fit in all areas, then at least in my experience, the 30s and 40s is where life’s blessing can be more fully received. There’s no denying the feeling of meeting life with the strength of our earlier days, but that strength usually gets squandered far too prematurely via the failure to reconcile contrasting ideological world pressures which then either a sort of depression or some form of violent rebellion sets in, putting one at odds with their environment. Either way something significant is lost, not gained which is what I believe life intends for man – the gain of grandeur.
Nice to reflect on this idea this morning, as I too am dancing through the 5th decade and see in my own experience that I’m just beginning in many ways. I guess every moment is a chance for new beginnings, which always carries with it a sense of optimism – the promises, excitement and vigor so natural to youth.
I pray the path you create will be a path well traveled. It is so easy to allow the precious essences of life blur past, caught in a storm of details of daily living. Your courageous efforts do provide a light into a darkened world . I yearn to discover not only the truth within, but the manifest brilliance and beauty of a life filled with purpose. The efforts you make provide inspiration and hope for me to continue moving forward each day so that others may follow my path in tue same way. Thank you Gregg!