Of Horizons and Hope
Did you ever notice the inverse proportions of our lives that seem to be dependent on our ages? The changing importance of common segments of time, of course, are most obvious, perhaps — like a decade seeming half way to forever when you’re fourteen, and about like a week when you’re seventy. Recently, I’ve begun to notice others.
For instance, there’s an irony in how we view our physical selves, apart from matters of vanity or even self-image. When we’re really young, we yearn to be bigger. As we get to physical maturity, we’re often happy enough with our size, but find ourselves on the verge of, (or too often) in the midst of, a determination not to get any larger. Daily I sit at a table with one or another of my coevals who complain that they’re losing weight, and they don’t know why. I have to hide my envy as they gobble down double scoops of ice cream for dessert. The bell curve seems to fit our internal gauges in many stages of life.
Remember when you noticed nothing much beyond your front yard or across your street, or beyond the mailbox at the end of your driveway? That was fine; the world was wide enough. You didn’t think much about what was out of sight. In all too short a time, though, you developed not just itchy feet, but an itchy psyche. You got a sense of how much is on our planet, and with that discovery came a real yen to see as much of it as you could. This feeling of being a small fish in an ocean wasn’t confined to geographical terms alone.
In our generation, that sense of immensity is laughable when we think of what is considered large today. A hundred years ago, the word “galaxy” stood for the farthest imaginable expanse known to man. Now, here we are, with time and space both expanded exponentially — and comprehension of huge numbers of almost infinite tininess — of nano as well as mega measurements now exceed my ability to comprehend.
During our middle years, we often wish only to expand our horizons — all of them. Then along comes the evidence that whether we like it or not, those horizons are drawing closer to us instead of recedi ng.
Our grandchildren are looking at their expanding universe, and we can’t believe our own is shrinking. Time and bereavement have made us slower and dimmed our hopes, our bodies won’t let us forget that we’re here with the finish line in view.
Whether it’s faith or sheer cussedness, we hang in there, most of us, if only to see what’s on the other side of the tape. If we’re lucky, we may notice that those beckoning, far horizons no longer have the appeal they once did. I, for one, have a vision that seems to be shortening along with my future, and it has nothing to do with needing my glasses changed. I do, however, hope that they will not be lost horizons.
After all, I like thinking of the millions following in our footsteps who will yearn towards them. Perhaps that’s what hope is.
Photograph from Wikimedia Commons, Thundercloud rainbow; Lawrence, Kansas, USA
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