“That’s life.” An oft heard phrase, whether from colleagues, friends, family, on TV, or perhaps coming from our own mouths, it can be used in reference to a multitude of (likely subpar) events. Encompassing all layers of subdued reaction, it can include anything from hard-luck disappointment at the blackjack table to a series of layoffs at work costing us our livelihood. Generally the phrase is used in an attempt to highlight those seemingly impossible to overcome moments inherent within life, and the uncertainty and uncontrollability we experience every day. Though undoubtedly colloquial in nature, the truth behind the phrase’s reference to life’s inevitabilities could not be more poignant and meaningful. Life truly is often frustrating and disappointing, and what’s more it’s often out of our hands. In Borg-speak, resistance is futile. But what I noticed this week is despite its frustrations life is also fleeting.
A lifetime of ninety years exists as less than one percent of the past ten-thousand years. Some would say this makes your time here on Earth insignificant, and merely a negligible fraction of a fraction not worth the attention or effort. Others however would argue that such a small amount of time relative to all time makes your brief shining moment all the more important. They would contend that there is immeasurable value in the short span of time in which you’re entitled to make your mark and leave a lasting contribution from which future generations may benefit during their own one-percent tenure. It’s an exercise, not in futility, but into perpetuity. Somebody’s one-percent past contributes to your one-percent present, which in turn will make way for somebody’s one-percent future. When viewed in this manner the function of all time then becomes simply the sum of many parts (many single percentages) creating a whole. So the emphasis (or italics) shouldn’t be focused on us all only getting one-percent, but instead it should be on the fact that we get one-percent. Each of us has the chance to contribute in equal parts to the same recipe, and sure the frustration lies in the fact that we never get the chance to see exactly what it is we’re baking…but I bet it’s sweet. And hey…that’s life.