This isn’t exactly a quotation on spirituality per se, but it does appeal to my spiritual sensibilities anyway, so I’m making it part of this series.
Earlier today, I was reading Handbook to Life in Ancient Mesopotamia, and I came across an Arab proverb that really resonated with me:
Man fears time, but time fears the pyramids.
This proverb reminds me of another quote by Muhammad Ali (January 17, 1942 – June 3, 2016) that shares the same spirit:
I hated every minute of training, but I said, ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.
…And this quote in turn reminds me of one by Anita Roddick (October 23, 1942 – September 10, 2007):
If you do things well, do them better. Be daring, be first, be different, be just.
I interpret the Arab proverb to mean that decay and death are a fact of existence for human beings, but even so, humans can leave legacies that time has difficulty destroying. The earliest pyramid in Egypt is a step pyramid (a pyramid built out of progressively smaller “stepped” platforms, similar to Mesopotamian ziggurats, rather than the later pyramids with smooth sides) called the Pyramid of Djoser, constructed some 4,650 years ago, give or take a decade or so. Today, it still stands.
As the proverb implies, time has been unable to tear down the pyramids of Egypt. Each pyramid alone is a testament to the greatness of human endurance and the power of synergy, but the pyramids together are a testament to humankind’s ability to say “I have achieved inconceivable greatness before, and I will do it again and again.” It takes the concept of “impossible” and barrels through its walls, battering ram in its collective arms and declaring to what exists on the other side, “There is nothing in this universe that I cannot pull down from the heavens and grasp in my own mortal hands.”
Whatever you perceive as being your best, know that you are capable of better. No matter how long you toil, know that you can toil for another moment longer. For each successive piece of greatness that you manage to grasp, know that tomorrow, you will have an opportunity to reach higher. This is the miracle of being human: to be able to achieve the impossible, and then say, “Tomorrow I will achieve more.”