Life and Affliction (part two with another to come)

Stephen Marsh Mormon 5 Comments

An older friend of mine remarked that time seems to fly by now. She quipped that it felt like she was changing the sheets every morning. As you close on eight years old, a month is about the same part of your life that a year is in your nineties. At her age, changing the sheets once a week really has become subjectively changing them every morning in the time frame of when she was younger.

That comment made me think about the way time would dilate for me if I was a couple thousand years old. Or how it might dilate if I was twenty thousand years old. Or older.

Suddenly, a life of a hundred years takes up less subject time than a month’s wait for Christmas takes for a child waiting for baptism. Of “a brief moment” took on new meaning for me. Our lives are, subjectively, of less time than a trip to a theme park or a camping week-end. They seem longer because of perspective, within the veil.

So, not only is life both better and worse than we appreciate (as I’ve noted, we are eating grubs and looking for a better quality of mud, even in the best of circumstances), it is so much shorter too. It becomes easier, in that perspective to understand affliction and pain as experience rather than as some sort of loss. All affliction is, is the choice of life.

To choose life, to chose to be born, is to chose to suffer and to die. Once you accept death, the question of life is not what permanence we create as we live forever in mortality. Rather, it is what experiences we choose to have in the very brief moment we have as we pass through. Very few people reading this blog would think it a terrible hardship if all the affliction they suffered in this life boiled down to a chipped nail one afternoon. But from the perspective of someone who is tens of thousands of years old, the worst of lives and the worst of suffering resolves down to the equivilent.

It doesn’t make this life any easier. Speaking personally, the third child I buried was no easier to bury than the first. Another funeral could well kill me. But there are lots of things I thought I couldn’t survive when I was younger that look trivial to me now, and I know in twenty or thirty thousand years that having been apart from my daughters for only forty or fifty years will not seem like much time, kind of like a mere week between changing the sheets seems so sort to my older friend.

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Comments 5

  1. I have noticed that the passage of time is compressed the older I get as well. “From the perspective of someone who is tens of thousands of years old” is there suffering at all? Does suffering continue on our part after we die on behalf of those we love in mortality?

    Another wise post, Stephen.

  2. Makes me think of Jacob 7:26:

    …I conclude this record, declaring that I have written according to the best of my knowledge, by saying that the time passed away with us, and also our lives passed away like as it were unto us a dream…

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