Fear of Infinity In a Finite Existence

By Graham L. Wilson

Written in gedit 3.4.2 and Leafpad on Fedora 17 and xfce 4.

Copyright (c) 2013 Graham Wilson.

Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.3 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included at this link: see my profile page.


There is so much in this world,

So much that is except for time.

Well, that is an overstatement,

Time there is aplenty, as eternity.

It is just not apportioned to us,

As liberally as we would desire.

We all grow old, we all will die.

Our time upon this Earth is brief.


But it is not that truth that haunts me,

I have long since accepted the gift

That is freedom from an eternity of pain.

That truth was realized for me,

From careful internal debate,

A battle between fear and peace.

It is not that which disturbs me,

Nothing so personal, nothing so close.


In fact, what disturbs me is just the opposite,

The infinity that we actually do face,

The vastness of time in the universe,

Rather than that within our own lifetimes.

For you see, it is knowledge itself, wisdom incarnate,

Which fills me with both rapture and despair.

Oh so much to learn, so much to read,

So much to hear, so much to experience,

How can one get one's proper fill?

How can one get the best of all?


So much has been written,

So much remains still unwritten,

The sciences have revealed much,

And yet still their grasp is weak,

The universe remains still a mystery.

Yet still, I cringe and shy,

At so much there is to know already.

In the arts too, there is much to see,

Emotions that rise from prose, from music,

From sights, sounds and modern interactivity.

How can one get one's proper fill?


My trepidation does not arise from hatred or disgust,

I am an inquiring mind; upon my computer screen,

Lays open article after article, reference after reference.

Wikipedia is my personal heaven, my own private salvation.

I seek to know all, read all, see all, understand all.

There is my fault, I seek infinity in my own finite form.

I want to know all, read all, see all, understand all.

Tell me it is impossible, and I will not dispute it,

But one can not control one's inclinations,

One's obsessive passions, one's deep persistent drives.


Again, I insist, this is not a hatred of learning,

Knowledge brings great comfort and solace,

Understanding is my guiding light, it fills my needs,

It is its absence rather that scares me, ignorance abounds,

And how hard is that fear to shy away, a lack of confidence.

There is too much to see, so much to read, not enough time.


Reading is inefficient, too slow, too draining,

Of twelve works, numerous pages, so much I wish to sample,

But alas my eyes move singularly, one line at a time,

One page only can I digest at once, with a few more in a go.

If only one could multi-task, a multiplicity of focus.

Or perhaps better yet, find the ultimate source of revelation,

The key to instant knowledge transfer, to learn all

In a matter of minutes, quick and easy, insight unlimited.


Well, that perhaps would go a bit too far,

I know my life is measured in years,

And not hours, minutes or seconds.

I know that I am still young, still just beginning.

Yet, I feel that I will not have the time,

To digest all that I wish to know, all I need to know.

There is so much science, so much philosophy,

So much art, so much fun, and so much work to do.

How does anyone find the time to be bored?

Is it that your vision is so crippled,

That you can not even begin to comprehend,

The vastness of all existence,

Of infinite time, of infinite probabilities?


It does not aid my quest for peace of mind,

To consider the existence of so much filler,

So many false prophets, pseudo-science, lies,

Slanderous opinions and hateful rhetoric.

All such cloud our quest to learn,

To understand and to be enlightened.

They waste my time, oh my precious time.

Perhaps I should drop this poem,

And go out and read a book.

Maybe log on to Wikipedia,

And spiral through for an hour or two.

Just to feel safer in new understanding.


Or perhaps, I should persevere,

And keep up this creative work.

What matters most to me?

Reassurance from understanding?

Or pride in accomplishment?

Is there time in this world,

In this life, for both learning,

Accomplishment and reflection?


Again, I ask, how can anyone

Possibly be bored? Be listless?

There is so much to learn,

So much to do, so many tribulations,

So much strife, so many distractions.

Are you all just blind, deaf, stupid?

Or forced into a deprivation chamber,

Your mind clamped in metal chains?


I can imagine myself,

At the age of 82, or thereabouts,

Looking back on this weary life.

Hoping that I did all I could.

Hoping that I read all I could.

Hoping that I fixed all I could.

Hoping that I used my time wisely.

Knowledge is infinite,

Possibility is infinite,

Alas, but our own lives are not.

Take your pick, from the rich tree of life,

And from the yet richer tree of knowledge,

Have your share, and enjoy it while you can.


Never close your eyes, never cover your ears,

Never miss what chances given, what wisdom,

Presented to you. Go forward, and endeavour,

Build what you can, create what you wish,

Make your imprint, summarize and recollect,

Contribute to humanity's maelstrom,

And then rest in peace, your eternity spent,

Your share consumed, your quest cut short.

Never give up on life, there is always more.

So much more to see, to do, to create.

Never give up, never throw away,

Your precious minutes, days, years.

Your share of eternity is too precious.


February 15, 2013