Suddenly Eternal

We have the word “eternal”.. This led me to the word “perdurable”, which is defined as enduring continuously; imperishable…”a composer creates a perdurable aesthetic object”. This is a new word for me. I have not heard it said, nor have I read it in any works. A new word isn’t that remarkable, but for some reason this word surprised me.

I’ve been thinking of the concept of time, and that which is timeless. There is the conundrum of defining something by the absence of something. “Timeless” still uses the word “time”.

We speak of nothing, yet it could be said that “nothing” is “something”. What is an example of “timeless”?

For many women it can be the classic “little black dress”. Obviously this is really not eternal. Timeless could be expressed as a well crafted phrase. Again, not really truly eternal.

What is true is that we can be in part finite as well as infinite. For some we have the belief that our spirit is eternal, but most certainly our physical bodies reach a point of diminishing returns. In other words, we are dying, and not immortal.

A quick refresher in physics can remind us that the entire universe was created in one burst of reality. Nothing has been destroyed or eliminated, nothing has been added or created since that beginning. Everything is in a process of change. But our existence is technically eternal, just changed.

It might be said that all creation is trapped within the concept of time. The constant of change can be measured. Atoms and molecules come together to create matter for a time. They break apart to create energy in a never ending cycle. Existence is perdurable.

While we might not fully understand “timeless”, we do have several words and phrases that attempt to describe the concept. Probable the best example is the concept of God.

Most cultures embrace a concept of God. In most of the concepts, God is eternal, perdurable, God existed before time, and in truth, God is described as creating time. Ultimately, God is the only thing that exists completely outside of time.

The interesting dilemma is that for many religions, the purpose is to bring humanity back into the presence of God. The debate is not whether we are eternal beings. We are eternal- the issue is where we will spend eternity. In God’s presence, or without His presence, still eternal but forever lonely?

In one sense we can define ourselves as being like circles. We didn’t exist, then suddenly we exist without beginning or end, suddenly eternal.

Perhaps this mystery is the driving force behind procreation. It’s not so much that we love children. We just want to be part of an eternal example. Maybe everyone who “creates” is actually trying to freeze a moment of existence, hopefully something that lasts longer than our lifetime. Ha!, “lifetime”, the word defines a limited existence.

My guess is that at some level we doubt our perdurability. We create, breed, write, draw, leave paintings on cave walls, because we must leave something behind, after we are no more.

I believe, help me in my unbelief.

About johndiestler

Retired community college professor of graphic design, multimedia and photography, and chair of the fine arts and media department.
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