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Re: Last Times

tags: life mind

dece reminds us:

> If there is a first time to something, then there is exactly one last time.


And marginalia reminds us, that this notion is probably as old as mankind:

> The words "carpe diem" have survived, but what has been largely lost is that they carry the same grim urgency that tomorrow may not come, so you'd better not squander the present.


Thank you dece and marginalia for these posts. Along more personal lines I would like to add a few observations of my own.


After school and state service time, and before enrolling for university courses, I had the privilege to travel for an extented period of time. Money was sparse, and time surprisingly turned out to be sparse as well. I had planned a route which would easily last years rather than months. In upstate New York I met a girl at the bus terminal, who was reading the same book [a] as I did, at roughly the same page. How fascinating! Even though I met her again a few months later, that's when I saw her the last time.

Hitchhiking in Pennsylvania enroute to Harrisburg, PA I was given a ride by a young man. He had caught a rattle snake earlier the day and was transporting it in a cage. He showed it to me when he dropped me off. I took a picture. And yes, of course, that was the last time I saw the guy and the snake :)

These are just two of many such encounters. What's interesting though, in the beginning I was travelling with the mindset, that I could come back later. It took me quite some time to realize, that I would not come back to all of these places. And even if I did, places would change, people would move and so on. There is no "coming back" that my juvenile and romantic mind imagined back in the day. I sometimes wonder what happend to all those last time aquaintances.

Carpe Diem

During a more difficult time in my life I came across this poem:

Achte gut auf diesen Tag
denn er ist das Leben
das Leben allen Lebens

In seinem kurzen Ablauf liegt
alle Wirklichkeit und Wahrheit des Daseins
die Wonne des Wachsens
die Größe der Tat
die Herrlichkeit der Kraft

Denn das Gestern ist nichts als ein Traum
und das Morgen nur eine Vision

Das Heute jedoch --- recht gelebt
macht jedes Gestern zu einem Traum voller Glück
und jedes Morgen zu einer Vision voller Hoffnung

Drum achte gut auf diesen Tag

In short: Today --- when taken care of properly --- can turn yesterday into happy reminiscence, and tomorrow into hopeful prospects --- even if tomorrow may not arrive. I do not know, who wrote this, or whether it has been translated more nicely. Let me know [b].


With more than 20000 days on the planet [c], I'm certainly not a young person any more. And I start to experience the deteoration of my health. Not so long ago I have seen my mother, a girl I went to school with and a younger man providing a nice piece of software "for the last time" before they have left this wonderful planet. This reminds me very clearly that my days are finite, too. I have no clue, how many days are left. Could be a small number, who knows. But these events have clearly shifted my perception of worthwhile pastimes.

Last Times

The one thing that keeps floating around in my mind is this: There will be the day where I am unable to produce the mantra to decrypt my computers storage, or my .gpg file which holds the other mantras. Then I might fall off the internet and any online activity. And no, I have not produced sufficient printed instructions for the ones that come after me. For some things yes, but not for others. Maybe this should be reconsidered.

My Conclusions

To the young

> Should you care to listen: Do not put off your dreams too far into the future --- you might not be able to pursue them later.

Apparently the perception of finite time is alien to the youth, imho for good reasons. Otherwise only few would raise children, buy a house, start a business, or pursue something seemingly uncertain or open ended. So:

> Don't listen to me too closely. It might ruin you day! :-)

Cheers and take care,



[a] Robert Pirsig -- Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

[b] The poem might be translated from a text from Dschalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad ar-Rūmī

[c] This bash one-liner will tell you:

echo $(( ( $(date +%s) - $(date +%s --date="YYYY-mm-dd") ) / 86400 ))


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