“It is perfectly true, as philosophers say, that life must be understood backwards. But they forget the other proposition, that it must be lived forwards.”
Søren Kierkegaard’s quote “Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards,” reminds me of the intricacies of navigating a timeline that pushes us in only one direction – forward. It is impossible to even go back a few seconds, much less a decade or a lifetime. Instead, we have been given the gift of memory that allows us to reflect upon events, circumstances and decisions that have nuanced our journey.
Over the past weeks, looking backwards has given me a glimpse into an ancient world which is often celebrated within the framework of legend that borders on mythology. Yet, these men and women were made of flesh and blood. They lived extraordinary lives and left a legacy for those that came after. As I read their narratives, I wondered why they chose to think differently, to ignore the demands of accepted cultural norms. They embraced a more arduous route, seeking fulfillment that transcended trivial rewards offered by a status quo existence.
This week, I want to look backwards, to pause and reflect on the lives of the ancients, from Euclid to Aspasia, Thales to Zeno, Hipparchia to Ptolemy. I confess that I have not mapped out an outline for the next few posts, merely an idea that I want to follow as I consider my place in a world that is moving ever forward.
“Now he has departed from this strange world a little ahead of me. That means nothing. People like us, who believe in physics, know that the distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.”