The One Hundred Year Perspective

This morning was different. A radical change occurred overnight. It’s called “a new day.”

Karen Maezen Miller, the end of my rope

In one hundred years, none of us will be here, not in these lives, in this form. We will leave traces, stories, cells, words, our actions and effect on others passed through people we met who met people who met people, through our children to their children’s children. We will be known as the greats and the great-greats, if we are known at all.

The world will bear only a minimal resemblance to how we see it today. Each of our days and decisions will have vanished, along with millions of species of butterflies and acres of virgin forest. Droughts will ravage and floods will rage, inhabitable space will shrink and transform. And yet our descendants will still rise at daybreak, read to their children, wash their dishes, and relish color and kisses as we do.

To live in this life, this moment in earth time, is a blink, a gaping yawn, a fragile ball of yarn unraveling, a spinal twist, a good cry, the relief of peeing after a long car ride, a morning stretch.

Drama plays out everywhere–just stand on a street corner and watch for a while, look at people’s expressions: a woman smiling to herself in a crookedly parked car, a man with a furrowed brow hurriedly crossing against the light, a child in a stroller staring up at the place where the corner of a building meets the sky, pondering something or nothing at all. Look closely at the grass and find life teeming, competing, or at the trees with their busy legions of nest-builders, squabbling squirrels and wild branches.

In one hundred years, this moment will be long forgotten. But we are here, delivered into its fullness, babes in the woods neither before nor after our time.

A mother stays home, indulging an under-the-weather child with cartoons and pie for breakfast and negotiating about pet rats. She is at the end of her rope, and for a moment time contracts, squeezing her chest, the push and pull of yes, no, and maybe.

Even then, there is a lengthening, a savoring of the brevity, this quick lifespan, this breeze between downpours, the atmosphere heavy as if deep in thoughts no one else can hear.

And there is really nothing to do but sigh, and sleep, knowing that a radical change will occur overnight: a new day.

4 thoughts on “The One Hundred Year Perspective

  1. You brought me to tears. Thank you. Similar thoughts have rolled through my mind lately. I keep reminding myself in down moments: will this matter in an hour, tomorrow, next week, next year? Breathe deep and loosen up.

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