It is ironic that the mind—that great defender of our safety and well-being—also convinces us that we are less ephemeral than we really are.
On the one hand, our mind is constantly on the alert for hidden (or obvious) danger, constantly considering contingencies for dealing with real or perceived threats. On the other hand, the mind convinces us that we will live an inordinately long life, will survive whatever is thrown at us, and will leave an important legacy when we do, finally, “shuffle off this mortal coil”. This aphorism is a warning to be wary of the mind’s tricks. While both mindsets have their utility in helping us cope with real dangers and remain effective despite our short tenure on this earth, we must remember that our world is often less scary than it seems…and we are probably a little less permanent than we might hope.
Note: Whether our degree of impact on the world is great or small, short or extended, this does not detract from our fundamental value as human beings and our obligation to treat our fellow man with dignity and respect. The purpose of acknowledging our ephemeral nature is to guard against engaging in hubris.