Lately, after reading an article about the infamous Villages retirement community in Florida, I’ve been pondering this ancient Greek epitaph:
“Drink. Play. Your life is mortal and time on earth is but short. Death itself is everlasting once a man has died.”
πῖνε, παῖζε· θνητὸς ὁ βίος, ὀλίγος οὑπὶ γῇ χρόνος·Originally tweeted by sententiae antiquae (@sentantiq) on August 23, 2021.
ὁ θάνατος δ’ ἀθάνατός ἐστιν, ἂν ἅπαξ τις ἀποθάνῃ. #Epitaph
I am not an old man yet. However, I am that point in my life where I am looking ahead and I have decided that rather than just indulging myself in my twilight years, I would focus on doing some good in the world instead. This quote from Roger Zelanzny’s novel Isle of the Dead is particularly inspiring to me:
Earth-son, I greet you by the twenty-seven Names that still remain, praying the while that you have cast more jewels into the darkness and given them to glow with the colors of life.
As Saicho, the Buddhist monk, famously said: ichigū wo terasu (一隅を照らす, “light one corner of the world”). Our thoughts and actions do matter towards others. A self-indulgent existence helps no one, and provides no value to the world, but on the other hand, a life devoted to others provides incalculable value for generations.
For my part, I would like to continue casting little jewels into the void as long as I can still raise an arm.
Namu Amida Butsu