Lone and level sands

As I wrote a check today, the gravity of “2015” dawned on me.

We’re halfway through the decade.

And not only that, we’re halfway through the second decade of this century.

When I watched the preshow for the Saturday Night Live 40th Anniversary Special last night, one of the participants (I don’t remember who) mentioned he’d never lived in a world without Saturday Night Live.


I have.

I was born into a world where men hadn’t even walked on the moon (and where Star Trek was a television show not a cultural phenomenon). Where phones had cords. Where girlfriends could sit in the middle of the bench seat in a pick-up truck, her boyfriend’s arm draped across her shoulders.

It’s not just that I’m feeling old (I am), but I’m feeling fleeting. Like sand on a windy day, blowing in the wind.

The Roman Empire lasted 500 years — 10 lifetimes in a those times. I’m sure it seemed to its inhabitants to be capable of existing forever.

Yet it didn’t.

Reading about Henry Flagler’s Key West Railroad (book review here) probably didn’t help. The guy sunk $30 million dollars into its construction, and it blew away a quarter century after he died. To preface his book, author Les Standiford used this quote from a Percy Bysshe Shelley poem about Ozymandias who was, perhaps, an Egyptian pharaoh:

And on the pedestal, these words appear:
“My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings,
Look at my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!”
Nothing beside remains, Round the decay
Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

One response to “Lone and level sands

  1. That has been my favorite poem since I read it in high school. I was privileged to see the statue of Rameses II in the British Museum a couple of years ago that inspired Shelley to write it. It is so profound and I too have had moments in my life where that “fleetingness” hits home.

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