When the coliseum was built in 80 A.D. it was one of the most incredible architectural achievements in human history. 1,938 years later, time has taken its toll—its most recent major restoration was at a cost of nearly $30 million and took several years. When the famous Marcus Aurelius equestrian statue was first assembled out of bronze, it was so beautiful and impressive that 1,358 years later, Michelangelo had trouble building a base for it. But today? Today it sits inside a climate controlled building because of damage from the elements.
Take great novels like Huckleberry Finn or On The Road. Every generation has to wrestle with the dated parts of them, questioning many of the author’s assumptions and language which seems out of date, and each year they lose a little of their relevance, even if they gain new readers. Even Epictetus, whose writing was so blunt and to the point, has to be re-translated constantly or his meaning gets lost.
The point is: Everything is touched by the heavy hand of time. Time either wears things down like water falling slowly on stone. Or time passes things by and changes them, isolates them, renders them useless in doing so. There is nothing on this earth that time hasn’t touched, that time hasn’t ultimately emerged victorious over. Whether the battle takes a year or seventy or seventy billion, time always wins.
Remember that. Let it humble you. Let it make the empire you’re trying to build seem small and futile in comparison. Let it make you feel urgency today, to do the right thing by the people around you, and to yourself. Because that’s all there really is.
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