The Beginning of Always

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Ancient Egypt

The Pyramids of Giza

“Remember tonight… for it is the beginning of always”

Dante Alighieri

I love beginnings, a fresh start, a new adventure with promises of open roads and opportunities.   Energy, anticipation and hope are all wrapped up in “firsts.”  As a whole, we understand what is required in the early stages:  set up a plan, identity a goal, make a list, share the list.  Oh, the rush of adrenaline as we race into the future.  There will be an end, of course.  And what a glorious feeling it will be when we come to the end of our journey, knowing that we have given our best.

Beginnings and endings are the bookends of our existence.  Two points of time that frame the experiences, both good and the not so good, that nuance our lives.

And then there is always…forever.

Ancient Eqypt

The Great Sphinx

Forever is a very long time.  We may say that we will love forever and remember forever, even though we are not here forever.   Since the beginning of time, however, we have been pursuing the concept of “always” with a boundless passion.  Ancient Egyptians believed that death was only a temporary interlude before rebirth and a new journey.  The ancient Etruscans envisioned sea horses and dolphins transporting souls to Elysium, the Islands of the Blessed.  Ancient Greeks crossed the river Styx on a boat, steered by Charon.

Are we so different from the ancients? William Shakespeare, in his play Hamlet, called death: “The undiscovered country from whose bourn, No traveler returns.”   This thought is echoed by Chancellor Gorkon, in Star Trek VI, The Undiscovered Country. (You may recall that Chancellor Gorkon stated that Shakespeare could only be perfectly experienced in the “the original Klingon.”)

Ancient Egypt

The Pyramids of Giza

We recognize and embrace forever for it seems to be in our DNA to press forward, to take “a next step.”  Here’s a thought:  what if “forever” was in the moment?  That every breath we take (the average person takes between 17,280 – 23,040 per day) the possibility of always is before us.  As Emily Dickinson once wrote:

 “Forever is composed of nows.”

29 thoughts on “The Beginning of Always

  1. What a thought-provoking article. It is true isn’t it? The only place that we can live our life is in the present moment and if we made each of those moments the best that we could what a wonderful life we would have. X

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    • Your words “the only place that we can live our life” resonated with me. I agree – it is within our ability to create these places by recognizing the moments. But in my experience, it is easier said than done!!! The good news is that it can be done. 🙂

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  2. I like the idea very much, Rebecca. Only yesterday I had to reflect about the worries about the future and the rest of what’s to come instead of doing something with “now”. Forever becomes a different meaning when you’re living in the moment.
    Big hug to you across the pond – I’m off, into the woods and will take your thoughts with me. Have a wonderful day! >3

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    • Dear Dina! There are many posts, comments, quotes, sayings, reminders to “live in the moment.” I often wonder if we understand the concept, even after all the breathing exercises, the walks along the beach, and the quiet times by a campfire or fireplace. I especially enjoyed your latest post on “seeing” and the the response Klausbernd gave to my comment, which resonate within this dialogue: “We are kind of machines producing a meaning of every impulse. We have to, because if we can’t find a meaning we are highly irritated and frightened. That means, a meaningless surrounding is unbearable for us.” Perhaps we are programmed to problem solve the future before it catches up to us. Big hugs and love heading back your way. Have a great day.

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    • I’ve been here! I did take a break in the summer to de-clutter and think about my next step into photography. There is always an adventure! Thank you so much for stopping by…

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  3. What a wonderful choice of subject, and the inference with which you framed it, to start the new year. Says I tongue in cheek, having a few days ago started to write a poem on the very subject of forever, giving it the working title of “To Live Forever”. In deed a difficult subject to undertake, if one intends to do so in a less than abstract manner… for as you so eloquently put it at the start of your of your article, ‘beginnings and endings are the bookends of our existence’, offering that there is an end and that ‘forever’ as far as mankind knows can be but a figment of our imagination.In other words, a dream, until reality steps in. Save for they who believe in reincarnation or the hereafter etc. In any event, though not a Scot I will tenaciously persist, in my attempt to give meaning to ‘forever’ in my work in progress, and humble poem. Your wonderful writing in this, The Beginning of Always, as in all your publications, inspires me to so persist. Thank you for this, my very dear friend!

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    • And thank you for your generous comments. I was reminded of your words entitled, “The Beginning…of the end:

      “It started then
      The denouement,
      Not telling when
      Disentangled
      From maman,
      Would prompt
      Find the way,
      To journey’s end
      Ones fated day,
      And delay reach
      That virtual wall
      Of final breach,
      Meant to lead all
      Beyond entreat,
      While time lures
      Man so descends,
      To the beginning
      Of the end!”

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    • Thank you!!! This summer was my “decluttering” project, which gave me an opportunity to look at photos taken many years ago. A journey into the adventures of the past – it was fun and poignant at the same time. Your comments are very much appreciated.

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    • Oh Mandy, how very well said. As you know I have been reading about mythology of late. One of my favourite reads,along with many others, is Joseph Campbell. Your comments reminded me of his words: “Life is like arriving late for a movie, having to figure out what was going on without bothering everybody with a lot of questions, and then being unexpectedly called away before your find out how it ends.”

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  4. I was impressed with the idea of “bookends” so descriptive of our time on earth. Between those bookends are many “nows” little intervals of time that fill the space between those “bookends.” The dictionaries define “now” in different words, but essentially they all say that “now” is the present moment. We can only live the past moments by memory and the future moments we can only look forward expectantly. Our present moment is the important one–hope I have made sense. A really significant post, Becky, Thank you.

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    • Your comments act as a benediction. Thank you. I was just reading a little of Susan Sontag’s ideas on photography which coincides with your thoughts:

      “All photographs are memento mori. To take a photograph is to participate in another person’s (or thing’s) mortality, vulnerability, mutability. Precisely by slicing out this moment and freezing it, all photographs testify to time’s relentless melt.” Susan Sontag

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    • The reader has a tendency to fickleness! Cindy, I have been giving the whole idea of “living in the moment” a great deal of thought of late, especially since I’m going through my father’s photos, some of them taken close to a century ago. While we remind ourselves that we should embrace the power of now, we should also recognize that we experience “flight or fight” just as every other creature that walks this world. We are continually scanning our environment to ensure that we are safe and secure. And then there is the idea that we want to live big, not miss any chance to experience something new. So there is a balance. Still working on it…and perhaps that’s the best part: a work in progress. Thanks for stopping by…

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  5. I’m fairly convinced our human obsession with existing forever in some form or another is a sign that things are not as temporary as we think they are. I have difficulty believing in heavenly realms these days, as I know a lot of people do. Instead I like the idea that we (the real us) are only projecting into a body (much like a computer game) and when we leave we’ve just chosen to be unconnected. Therefore the concept of forever is correct, but just not on earth. Of course this is only a theory, I could be entirely wrong, but it makes me smile at the very thought of it! 😀 Thanks for the thought provoking post Rebecca, I hope your New Year is going well?

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    • Thank you for your thoughtful comment. All through the centuries, from the ancient Egyptians to modern technology that promises to add more time to our lives, we have been preoccupied with the idea of “forever.” It is a universal concept and a dialogue that keeps ever-fresh. I agree – it is more important to live in the moment, which is not as easy as it seems, when you have worries about the future or longings for the past. I like Joseph Campbell’s take on this: “We’re so engaged in doing things to achieve purposes of outer value that we forget the inner value, the rapture that is associated with being alive, is what it is al about.”

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