"For most of its history, Egypt was a dominant power in that region. In later years, foreign rulers began to take control. In 332 BC, Alexander the Great invaded Egypt, bringing Greek language and culture into Egypt for the next 300 years. Egypt then fell under Roman rule after the death of the famous queen, Cleopatra VII, in 30 BC."
- An excerpt from the exhibition's panel
It was strange, wandering in a space filled with inanimate objects belonging to dead people. One day, like these people, we would all pass away.
What legacies would we leave behind? What objects would our descendants find? iPhones and iPads? H&M jeans?
Like those who had came before us, we would eventually die too. One day, our bodies would be dug up by grave robbers and subjected to scientific and anthropological studies. What would our descendants think?
I thought of two paragraphs from A Short History of Nearly Everything, by Bill Bryson.
“If you imagine the 4,500-bilion-odd years of Earth's history compressed into a normal earthly day, then life begins very early, about 4 A.M., with the rise of the first simple, single-celled organisms, but then advances no further for the next sixteen hours. Not until almost 8:30 in the evening, with the day five-sixths over, has Earth anything to show the universe but a restless skin of microbes. Then, finally, the first sea plants appear, followed twenty minutes later by the first jellyfish and the enigmatic Ediacaran fauna first seen by Reginald Sprigg in Australia. At 9:04 P.M. trilobites swim onto the scene, followed more or less immediately by the shapely creatures of the Burgess Shale. Just before 10 P.M. plants begin to pop up on the land. Soon after, with less than two hours left in the day, the first land creatures follow.
Thanks to ten minutes or so of balmy weather, by 10:24 the Earth is covered in the great carboniferous forests whose residues give us all our coal, and the first winged insects are evident. Dinosaurs plod onto the scene just before 11 P.M. and hold sway for about three-quarters of an hour. At twenty-one minutes to midnight they vanish and the age of mammals begins. Humans emerge one minute and seventeen seconds before midnight. The whole of our recorded history, on this scale, would be no more than a few seconds, a single human lifetime barely an instant. Throughout this greatly speeded-up day continents slide about and bang together at a clip that seems positively reckless. Mountains rise and melt away, ocean basins come and go, ice sheets advance and withdraw. And throughout the whole, about three times every minute, somewhere on the planet there is a flash-bulb pop of light marking the impact of a Manson-sized meteor or one even larger. It's a wonder that anything at all can survive in such a pummeled and unsettled environment. In fact, not many things do for long.”
― Bill Bryson, A Short History of Nearly Everything
Life is fleeting, unpredictable and amazing.
Oftentimes, we think that our problems are great, so great that they could drown and suffocate us. But, if we view events along the scale of history, we merely exist in fleeting nanoseconds. There's an encompassing cosmos out there, wider and greater than us.
There's a history beyond, a timeline so vast that our very existence is meaningless to it.
Let this awareness guide us in what we do. Let us cherish the beauty that is before us and cease unnecessary wastage. Let us live our lives brilliantly, like shooting stars, bringing hope and pleasure to those in our world.