We Live But For A Brief Time

By Stephen Cheney

We live but for a brief time.
There is no value in forever.
All things fleeting are precious.
Of value without limit.
They cannot be possessed
and caged like jewels.
A life cannot be purchased for it does not last.
Only the deep mind of time knows us.
Material things have no memory
and pass on to another
without loyalty or attachment.

It is said that the gods envy us
because we do not last
and so for us, all moments have
a greater importance and intensity.
Colors more vivid, taste and touch,
and even love.
Yet we dream of eternal life,
but not know, yet,
if it is shadows of endless nothing.
When you have forever,
like the rocks,
what is important?
Rocks don't seem to value the moment.

A flower blooms in the desert,
it is gone and sometime
another flower blooms.
We are like flowers,
they are living, like us.
There is something special about being alive,
we are here instead of not.
We seek to know why, but know not.

Yet there is a why, because we are here.
Thinking, feeling, loving,
it is only the living that can add value
to any given moment in eternity.
We are the colors on the canvas,
we are the calligraphy
and also the message.
We create and are created.
We are precious beyond all dreaming.

 (Image: A Gentleman with Horses by a Stream - Jacques-Laurent Agasse)

[The views expressed in this publication are solely those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of Dissecting Society]


  1. Why would anyone want to live forever is beyond my understanding. I for once am glad we live but for a brief period of time. Beautiful poem, Stephen!

  2. No god would ever envy us, not even our limited expiration date. But I know we envy the gods for their immortality. I'd live forever if our bodies wouldn't become feeble!

    1. Hi Anonymous, when it is considered that our bodies are mortal and decay, what fragments is only the complex structures, the mechanism of the watch as it were. The components that we are all made of, the atoms, are all basically immortal. The heavy elements in our bodies from this planet were not forged in the limited heat of our sun. They were compacted long before our sun came to be in a previous supernova that provided the basic heavy atomic building blocks for our solar system to condense to and for all life here. We are stardust twice cooked. The atoms, clumpings of protons and neutrons, were not born in that supernova, they stem from the beginning of time. So we can date ourselves all the way back to the universal beginning in the Big Bang (at least energy-wise). So we are the same age of any minor gods, if minor gods were even thought of then. So to live: we are compacted and bonded and structured and then we later crumble. Our leftovers can scatter and form, throughout the immensity of Time, to be the basis of an endless supply of both inanimate and animate forms; only in that you will have no say, and as your memory tapes are also fragmented, you will not remember it all either. Except in any duplicated DNA memories that all life seeks to make its magnum opus. All life is but shared memories of information. Anything else, and there may be a lot else, is speculative. Time is a ‘god’ that remembers all. Our bodies seem feeble, but as nuclear detonations demonstrate, our atoms can rival the gods of popular mythologies in destruction or creative energy. We are little elves but made of magical eternities.

  3. Life is ephemeral and that's the beauty of it. We learn to value it more. Thanks, Stephen for yet another beautiful poem!

  4. Hi Cheney,

    Our bodies live but for a brief time, but we live forever. We are essentially immortal, our memories, our experiences, our conscience, lives on after the body perishes. When we remember past lives, we prove our immortality, wouldn't you say so?

    Great topic, great poem (as always).


    1. Hi Max, in science, the immortality of matter is fairly clear. It is an impartial view. That is not what humans are really interested in, however. They are interested in the survival of the soul. The soul is undefined in science and is normally classified as a metaphysical matter, not a part of physics and not examinable under the scientific method. Those religiously devout to the extent that they are satisfied with the dictates of others, religious authorities and text books that proclaim an eternal existence for the soul; find faith sufficient, believe also in miracles, and need no discussion on the matter. For those religious who respect science, wish that science could bother to look into the matter and provide whatever findings it can. The scientific study of the bible, for instance started by German scholars, and inclusive of all archaeological discoveries and historical documents dug up that were never before available, have a well established body of new knowledge and revealed much that was never before even thought of, enriching religion and eliminating some spurious claims that misdirected through ignorance. If you are going to believe in anything, that belief should at the very least, be self-consistent. Otherwise anything could be believed and we would all contradict each other by sticking to our own fantasies.

      Remembering past lives is a controversial subject, but one that has been, somewhat, examined by science. Psychology often beaches into unknown depths. Under deep hypnosis some subjects advise at length and in detail about past lives. Some cases have a verifiable ability, such as case/s of children in India claiming that they used to be someone else (now dead). A child taken from one part of India to a far other to visit a claimed past house was able to locate funds buried beneath the floor, a burial unknown to the other family occupants. The transition of soul between people of different personalities though does not seem to be the same thing as a continuance of the very same soul. Does a soul have to maintain only one personality? There are persons who have genuine multiple personalities. Much knowing of what is going on depends on what exactly is a soul. A lack of clarity hampers conclusions.

      As Time is multi-directional in Quantum Mechanics, it may be that one did not actually live another life before and is now remembering it; but that the human mind has, for some, an ability to project through time and link to the being of someone in the past and be aware of what they were aware of. A form of RV. That happening, if real, would get around any reincarnation view.
      The converse can be possible. From whatever is today depends entirely on what happened in the past. Meaning that the energies of a life in the past affect the future; energy being immortal and all affects all, as is clear from Relativity. Thus it may be that a past life could project into its future and affect someone in the now. More basically we are all existing only due to being replicas of the DNA information strips of our ancestors. Some people, meeting in previous centuries (on record of some kind), can, without knowing that, find themselves again today, meeting the inheritors and knowing each other again.


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