For the pyramid no reason has ever been given adequate to the cost and labor of the work. The narrowness of the chambers proves that it could afford no retreat from enemies, and treasures might have been deposited at far less expense with equal security. They seem to have been erected only in compliance with that hunger of imagination which preys incessantly upon life, and must be always appeased by some employment. Those who have already all that they can enjoy, must enlarge their desires. He that has built for use till use is supplied, must begin to build for vanity, and extend his plan to the utmost power of human performance.
I consider this mighty structure as a monument to the insufficiency of human enjoyments. A king, whose power is unlimited, and whose treasures surmount all real and imaginary wants, is compelled to be solaced by the erection of a pyramid, to amuse the tediousness of declining life by seeing thousands laboring without end, and one stone, for no purpose, laid upon another. Whoever thou art, that, not content with a moderate condition, imagines happiness in royal magnificence, and dreams that riches can feed the appetite of novelty with perpetual gratifications, survey the pyramids, and confess thy folly.
–Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), Rasselas, pages 671-672 (edited)
So certainly does weariness accompany all of our undertakings, that every person, in whatever he is engaged, consoles himself with the hope of change. If he has made his way in public employment, he talks among his friends of the delight of retreat. If by the necessity he is secluded from the world, he listens with a beating heart to distant noises, longs to mingle with living beings, and resolves to take hereafter his fill of diversions…
–Samuel Johnson, Rasselas, page 162 (edited)
Every man recounts the inconvenience of his own station, and thinks those of any other less, because he has not felt them. Thus the married praise the ease and freedom of the single state, and the single fly to marriage from the weariness of solitude… Whoever feels great pain, naturally hopes for ease from change of posture.
–Samuel Johnson, Rambler #45
If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world.
–C. S. Lewis
One of the deepest fears we all share is that of dying alone and without recognition. Not recognition in the sense of a New York Times obituary or a national monument, but just a simple acknowledgement that we’ve passed. Something in the deepest part of our being requires that our life mean something to others. For our death to go unnoticed and unrecorded would be virtually to deny that we were ever here at all.
We humans have always had our share or problems, but by far the biggest one is our tendency to wear out, drop dead, and rot away without a trace. Since we’ve yet to figure out how to keep from dropping dead, we’ve devoted a lot of time over the centuries to figuring out better ways to leave traces of ourselves.
Scientists are still poking around the pyramids in Egypt trying to decipher all that’s there. Probably the fanciest tombs ever built, these crypts of kings are the prime example of our desire to be remembered.
–Tom Bodett, Small Comforts, 1987, pages 125-126
Ecclesiastes 1:8 — All things are wearisome, more than one can say. The eye never has enough of seeing, nor the ear its fill of hearing.
Ecclesiastes 2:4-11 — I undertook great projects: I built houses for myself and planted vineyards. I made gardens and parks and planted all kinds of fruit trees in them. I made reservoirs to water groves of flourishing trees. I bought male and female slaves and had other slaves who were born in my house. I also owned more herds and flocks than anyone in Jerusalem before me. I amassed silver and gold for myself, and the treasure of kings and provinces. I acquired men and women singers, and a harem as well—the delights of the heart of man. I became greater by far than anyone in Jerusalem before me. In all this my wisdom stayed with me. I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure. My heart took delight in all my work, and this was the reward for all my labor. Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun.
Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 — Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.