Wednesday, February 13, 2008
THE WALL AT THE END OF THE WORLD
My brilliant four year old and I recently had the following exchange;
He: "Where is the wall?"
Me: "Which wall?"
He: "You know, the wall at the end of the world"
The question so matter of fact and logical to his ever searching and growing imagination. I tried to explain about the world being round, and having no end, but I decided that it was also helpful to mention that there are indeed "many walls" all over the world. This was a satisfactory response for the time being.
Above and beyond my profound admiration for the magical thinking inherent to my son's stage of development, his lovely question struck a chord for me; an essential element of our finite journey in this life is that we find it a great challenge to imagine the infinite, to comprehend something that may indeed have no beginning or end.
We create beautiful art, poetry, music and stunning architecture to extend beyond our own short shadows and offer the possibility of immortality. The paradox of course is that we can only create such transcendent beauty because we are so intimately and painfully aware of our finality. We are driven by a sense of urgency, hoping that even the slightest of footprint will leave even a faint trace of our journey.
I think if we could see no end, if we had a chance to live forever we would totally squander it. I would like to believe that we would spend the time learning a hundred languages, growing our brain capacity, or creating works of sublime and unparalleled beauty. In reality, I think minus the urgency we would become rather dull and listless, weeks spent playing video games or complaining endlessly how service has really deteriorated during the last few centuries.
Perhaps the "wall at the end of the world" is a necessary image, a quickly approaching end of the line that we are always running closer towards, forcing out deep breaths and inhaling sublime moments of beauty, taking it all in before we finally arrive.