Nothing is new.
This can be a comforting thought, in the midst of maelstrom and muddle. Queens, kings, tyrants and saints come and go. Plagues sweep the earth, the poor struggle, the rich accumulate.
Ancient iconographers knew this. Buddhism has its terrifying Bhavachakra, the medieval period its Wheel of Fortune (Rota Fortunae).
The ancient triskell symbol, at least 5,000 years old, seems to be in perpetual motion, patterns repeating endlessly.
Our ancestors gathered resources, worried about how to divide them, had progeny then worried how to support them. Worried about how folk would manage when they were dead. Who would bring in the crops, who would sort out everything they left behind? And yet somehow life rolls on, millennia after century after decade after year.
I wonder what those ancestors would say to us, if they were observing us caught in the intricacies and struggles of daily life? I wonder what wisdom they would impart, after the blessing of centuries passing? If strong family values get contextualised around impermanence? Would they translate “You must work hard” into “Work hard at loving, helping, growing.” If “Be good, fit in” becomes “Be good to yourself and your neighbours, question what seems injust.”
Or would they be encouraging us to do more, get more, keep racing on? I like to think not, I like to think that time gives perspective. A magnified version of the research that Bronnie Ware conducted that concluded that the top 5 regrets of the dying were:
“I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”
“I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.”
“I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.”
“I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.”
“I wish that I had let myself be happier.”
I wonder if taking more of a bird’s eye view of the passing of time can help us contextualise our worries, see the universality of our patterns, and maybe allow us some space to look at what, ultimately, really matters for us, our loved ones, and our planet.
Newgrange image from: https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=142744