What is Life?

"What is life? It is the flash of a firefly in the night. It is the breath of a buffalo in the wintertime. It is in the little shadow which runs across the grass and loses itself at sunset."

Crowfoot Blackfeet

What a quotation! I found it at the front of Timothy Egan's book Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher  which I just started yesterday. The general sentiment that life is fleeting is familiar but I feel that something else is captured here. The natural imagery puts a picture in your head and reminds you of these little snapshot moments that make up life on earth. The last example of the shadow is interesting because it seems a little more mundane and is not necessarily attributed to anything alive. However, it connects to our fundamental notions of time and change. Life is a combination of tiny moments. The sense of purpose we sometimes associate with our lives is something that we manufacture. This gets into the murky swamp that is the question of 'why are we alive?'

For me, the question 'what is life' sometimes feels more magical. It feels incredibly simple and fascinatingly complex at the same time. The answer given by Crowfoot Blackfeet can seem a little depressing in its simplicity. But I think that is the beauty of it, there is space for you to choose what to do, enjoy, and explore in life.