A Deeper Life

an interesting meditation I ran across recently:

Nothing seems to remain after life but a cast, an impression left by a once living being.

An enduring life, a life that could last through and beyond death, would have to be a deeper life than the ordinary.  It would have to be some life that men have without knowing it, some current that runs far beneath the surface.  To find it would be like seeing something fiery in the depths of life; it would be like hearing a rhythm in life that is not ordinarily heard.  The question is whether a man, if he found such a life, could bear to live it, whether he could live at that depth, whether he could live according to that rhythm.

The deeper life would be like an undertow, like a current that flows beneath the surface, a current that sets seaward or along the beach while the waves on the surface are breaking upon the shore.  The phases of life and the phases of civilization are like the waves, each phase swelling and dying away, each one rolling onto shore and breaking.  A life lived on the surface is like the surf itself, like the swell of the sea that breaks upon the shore, like the foam, the splash, the sound of breaking waves.  There is no swelling and breaking in the undertow, no foam, no splash, no sound.  Yet it is a powerful current and may move in a direction opposite to that of the waves, may move toward the open sea while they move toward the shore.

A man who gave himself to the deeper current of life might run a risk like that of a man who let himself be caught in the undertow.  It might be better for him to  float on the surface and let himself be carried to shore.  To live in accord with the deeper rhythm might be to ignore the surface rhythm of life.  It might mean missing the normal joys and cares of childhood, youth, manhood, and age.  It might mean plunging down into the depths of life to follow a light as elusive as sea fire.

by John S. Dunne, in “Time and Myth”


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