A Fleeting Life by Shihan Tang

“Life is but a fleeting reflection on the mirror of existence,
Permanence exists not, and if your heart speaks otherwise,
It lies to you. Impermanence is the essence of life,
and this very truth sets us free.
Life is precious, life is fleeting.
Live well”

– Shihan Kenneth Tang


I bought a new book today. Its title, “Writing Poetry From The Inside Out: Finding Your Voice Through The Craft Of Poetry” by Sandford Lyne. When I came home, I Googled his name and found that he passed away on February 7, 2007.

Quite a sobering thought, to know that I now held in my hands the words of a man who is no longer with us. If I didn’t buy that book, would I have even known who he was, and that he was gone? Would I have in my possession the voice of his living memory?

Until today, I’d never heard of his name. I only came across his name because of my interest in poetry and he wrote a book about writing poetry. Apparently, Mr. Lyne had been leading poetry workshops across the United States for twenty years and has had his poems published in numerous publications.

Google brought up some links and there was at least one that led to an expired domain name which carried his name as part of the domain. Is that all that is left of a person when he dies? A few Google links and an expired domain name?

Is life THAT fleeting? I hope not. I believe not. And while I had never known him, I feel as John Donne did in his poem “For Whom The Bell Tolls”:

“No man is an island, Entire of itself. Each is a piece of the continent, A part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less. As well as if a promontory were. As well as if a manner of thine own Or of thine friend’s were. Each man’s death diminishes me, For I am involved in mankind. Therefore, send not to know For whom the bell tolls, It tolls for thee.”

During his life, Mr. Lyne must have influenced many, many lives for good, through both his own life and his work. “Writing Poetry” shows a masterful command of the subject-matter as well as of the craft of writing itself. It has been a very, very inspirational read so far.

That, however, is secondary. The point is that we should ensure that we live our lives in ways that leave more than a mere expired domain name. We must live our lives in ways that leave enduring legacies in the lives of our loved ones, and in the lives of everyone with whom we come in contact. We must live lives that make a difference.

To Quote Emerson:

“To laugh often and much; To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others; To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.”

Your life is precious. May it be beautiful and prosperous. May it make a difference.

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