"As the days dwindle down to a precious few..."


Remembrance of things past1 is the special province of the aged, for whom the long shadow of the past looms over the present and the ever-shortening future. Everything conspires to remind: face in the mirror, alien; daily routines, upended; places, bulldozed; useful things, obsolete; friends, family, and acquaintances who peopled our world, sick, dying, dead. Our attempts to freeze time—photographs, videos, recordings—fade, as do our memories. Despite our efforts to stop time, the loves and friendships, the hardships and tragedies, the triumphs and defeats, the jubilations and heartbreaks, the full pulsing, throbbing experiences of life—are gone.

We hold close our mementos and memories, trying to salvage fragments of a world being submerged by the in-rushing tide of time. We are denizens of Atlantis, that mythic lost world that sunk beneath the sea, leaving no trace. But not yet. This moment, right now, is our time. Hold it close.


1000 Years of Joys and Sorrows

Of a thousand years of joys and sorrows
Not a trace can be found   

You who are living, live the best life you can
Don’t count on earth to preserve memory

Ai Qing2  



  1. This is the translated title of a book by Marcel Proust, which has  more recently been translated as In Search of Lost Time. It is considered a classic on the poignant ache of memory and lost time.
  2. Ai Qing considered to be one of the finest Chinese poets of the last century, who was persecuted for his work. The title of this poem is also the title of a recent book by the well-known Chinese artist and activist, Ai Weiwei, who is Ai Qing’s son. He also has been persecuted for his work.


  1. Linda Biegen

    I feel in sync with your forthright words of the process toward our earthly end. What is your take of the impact of what we have lived through the last 6 years …political and social upheaval, pandemic, war. I feel like it has added an additional level of unsettling trauma to the whole process. I always appreciate your December Songs. Good to be on the journey with loved ones.

    • Brian Vandenberg

      Thank you Linda, again, for your thoughtful comments.
      Tumultuous and very unsettling is my take, one that I know you and other share. The world as we knew it is being transformed. I have been most privileged to have spent most of my life in a safe, wealthy country and afforded the good fortune of loving family and friends. It is, indeed, good to be on this journey with you, Linda dear. I admire your spirit, love, and generosity.

  2. Gary Morse

    The prose poem and poem are beautiful pieces that set the stage nicely for your thoughtful post. Let us use them all as reminders to live well now.

    • Brian Vandenberg

      Thanks, Gary.

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