The reason I chose the name “evanescent” for my blog was not just because it sounds cool, but because I believe it’s a poetic metaphor for life.
All life is transient. If there’s one constant that is revealed from a study of the universe it’s that all forms of existence are ephemeral. It’s just a matter of time, and time is entirely relative:
Average lifecycles of existing things:
Anti-hydrogen particle: 1/10th second
Housefly: one month
Mouse: 2 years
Dog: 13-14 years
Goldfish: 20 years
Elephant: 70 years
Human: 70-80 years
Tortoise: 150-200 years
Methuselah Tree: 4800 years
The Earth: 4.6 billion years (to date)
The Sun: 14 billion years (total age)
From the smallest to the largest, from the briefest to the longest, everything that exists in the universe eventually dies.
And yet, the death of such colossuses like a star, often produce nebulae. Nebulae are enormous gas “nurseries” where new stars and solar systems form. The death of stars leads to the creation of new stars.
Without death, life would be impossible! The very first replicating molecules that had an advantage over non-replicating molecules, survived, and the others didn’t. Success and development could only be achieved through the filter of natural selection, made possibly by the termination of life. What enables life to evolve is the ability to survive and reproduce, and therefore pass on more-successful genes to its descendants. Without the pressure of death, there would be no competition. There would be stagnation. Life, if it even got going, would not be anything like what we see today. Gazelles get faster and faster and more agile; cheetahs get faster and faster to catch them. The large grazing animals become faster, tougher, and wary, so tigers and lions get stronger, faster, more cunning, in order to hunt them. Success begets success; change begets change.
The sheer brute fact that we can die, forces evolution to strive for better ways to survive. It forces humans especially, (as sapient creatures), to invent, create, and better themselves. The ruthless uncaring competitive living world produced bats and humans from the same life-form 85 million years ago.
The very thing that evolution has taught us to fear and resist most is the very reason we’re here: death. Mother Nature it seems, it not without a sense of irony.
Life is a cycle. Without death there could not be new life. Death is an inextricable part of existence. Everything that has ever existed has perished. Everything that does exist now will perish. One could say that this is nature’s way of clearing out the old and bringing in the new. But the fact that we will all die one day should make us never rest on our laurels. Do something with your life. Leave a legacy. Raise a family. Make a difference. Be the best you can be. Or, sit around and cry over what you cannot change, and die without a word and with a life of regrets.
The brute fact of death is often unpleasant to realise, but we’re adults. And wishing something wasn’t so doing make it false. It is no wonder humans have always invented comforting stories and myths of survival beyond death. But they are dreams to assuage frightened minds. Being a human and being an adult should be about growing up and facing the facts; seeing the world not as you’d like it to be, but as what it really is. Only then can you really go about making it a better place.
The evanescence of life is really the greatest gift the universe gave humans.