Sunday, December 06, 2009


for all we ought to have thought, and have not thought
for all we ought to have said, and have not said
for all we ought to have done, and have not done
i pray, O Lord, for forgiveness
--Zoroastrian prayer of repentance

we like to think of ourselves as being good, as being embodiments of qualities we think are associated with our names: compassionate. courteous. kind. courageous. pious. virtuous. even noble. things that represent our greater ideals, and which we think will make a better world.

but invariably in the course of daily living our lives end up becoming something else. we succumb to the afflictions of our lesser realities, and lose ourselves in the mundane details and perpetual travails of society and the world, and find ourselves pushing things away and postponing promises and shuffling priorities and changing choices and making decisions that we swore we would never make and thinking and saying and doing things we thought we would never think or say or do...and in so doing, despite our aspirations to the contrary, we inevitably add to the suffering in this world.

and then, perhaps out of denial, perhaps out of guilt, perhaps out of frustration, perhaps out of regret, perhaps out of fear, we tell ourselves that it's okay. we tell ourselves that the race is long, that there's always time, that there's the rest of our lives, and that there's always a future to make things right.

thing is, we know that's not true.

because we know, as every creature that has ever realized the nature of their mortality has ever known, that every race has an end. that there isn't always time. that there's not the rest of our lives. and that there is not always a future to make things right.

because we know, as every creature endowed with the gift of life has ever known, that a race cannot be changed once it has been run. whatever happened is what happened. whatever we thought is what we thought. whatever we said is what we said. whatever we did is what we did. and none of it--none of it--can be undone.

which is why we must ask ourselves about our legacies. about what it is that we really want associated with our names.

because if we want our names to be associated with greater ideals instead of lesser realities, then we must recognize that the race is not just about reaching the end but also about what happened on the way. that race is not about when we finish, or if we finish, but how.

because our end, above all things granted to us in this life, is without any doubt most certainly assured. it's the nature of our lives that is not. and if our lives are to be about our greater ideals, if our lives are to be about helping to make a better world, then we have to act to confront our lesser realities, and we have to act to ease the suffering in this world.

and we have to act now.

not later, not tomorrow, not at the end of our race, but now.

while the race is still being run, while there is still time, while there is still life, for ourselves and for this world, so that both can truly become good.

our legacies originate from our nows, even as they reside in our futures.

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