Thanks to the author William Boyd for recently quoting these powerful words from Vladimir Nabokov:
“…common sense tells us that our existence is but a brief crack of light between two eternities of darkness.”
This is from Nabokov’s Speak, Memory: A Memoir (1951). I presume (in my ignorance) that the book contains more thought provoking content than this and I’ll seek it out and read it. It was quoted by William Boyd in his essay and interview for BBC Radio 2, Jeremy Vine radio show on the theme of ‘What Makes Us Human‘. I’m not a great fan of Vine’s show (too much speaking and not enough music) but this hooked me and stopped me changing station.
These few words, and some others well placed around them by Boyd, struck a chord with me.
He believes that the chaotic randomness of reality may end our individual existence at any moment. And forever – there is no afterlife. Not cheery thoughts! But he also says that as we know (deep down) the truth of this harsh reality of our brief sojourn on this planet, we should embrace it, use it to help us prioritise our actions and decisions. In other words seize the day, live life to the full, do stuff while you can.
Another point he stresses, is that we all seek relief from knowing this through love – the one thing we all yearn for.
Love and be loved if you can…