As we bid farewell to this, the thirteenth annum of the 21st century there are memories to cherish, actions to regret, a need to reflect and much to learn from doing just that.
When Descartes said, “Je pense, donc je suis” – I think, therefore I am – he advanced what is for many, a metaphysical truism whose profundity derives precisely from the genius of its simplicity. Yet to be, here and now, together, on this modest, galactic mass tethered by great fortune to a life-giving, glorious, pulsating star, in a universe of equally unique celestial objects whose inability, to our knowledge, to sustain life as we conceive of it, is precisely that which separates us and this place from all else. We, being here, is by any measure a spectacular gift!
Descartes could potentially have gone further and said, “I am here, therefore I think – thus I am”. For without this place, any thought would be at best, improbable. And indisputably, the awesome beauty of this, our earthly home, has served as an explosive spark, igniting the creative energy at the essence of each monumental text, stunning canvas, remarkable verse and indeed, every deep thought and emotion that comprise our psyche.
As we look back on what we have achieved, let us stop for a moment to consider to what degree the fact that we are, that we have been given a fleeting opportunity to benefit every day from the great and wondrous world we call home, has on some level inspired us to act to advance not only our own, but also our fellows’ condition, to feel compassion for those less fortunate, to give more than we take and to listen to those around us for clues as to how we can be individually better for the greater good of us all.
Our fate is intimately bound to one another’s. When our state of being momentarily transcends ego we capture a glimpse of a higher purpose that is grounded in our shared humanity.
Descartes, by way of full intellectual resolution, may have easily continued by saying, “I am, therefore I must think”. Without purposeful pause and reflection, our instinctive tendency to self-absorbed individualism will forever trump the overwhelming and undeniable generosity of the human soul.
So, as the holidays swirl around us and we inevitably move forward together towards another year of shared destiny, let’s raise a glass to the better, brighter, more benevolent impulses of which we are capable and let our hearts and minds absorb and then reflect back the radiant warmth that sustains life here to everyone around us.
Slave to the grape – worse fates there have been!