“If these be our last moments, men, let us live them with honor.”
– Thorin Oakenshield, The Hobbit (animated, 1977)
I suppose my mind has been dwelling on this since Veteran’s Day, how each moment we have is a gift, and we decide how to use it.
Coming at the climax of this children’s movie, this line is delivered amidst what seems to be a hopeless battle, as the united armies of man, elf, and dwarf are being overrun by a massive horde of goblins. The heroes are staring death in the face with courage and determination. Thus, in his final moments, Thorin is resolved to meet his fate with honor.
That’s often how we think of it, isn’t it? Whatever lives we have lived, with whatever flaws we have displayed, we want to go out on a high note. That’s not a bad thing, and yet, I feel that it is incomplete. It is less than it could be, and should be.
We all know that we are going to die, but we don’t ever really know when. We can sometimes have a pretty good idea about it, in unusual circumstances, but we could die even sooner than we think, or we could somehow survive a bit longer. We just don’t really know when we will die, so we don’t really know when we ought to have that high note, do we? And I think, that is good.
Our lives are simply collection of moments, as oceans and rivers are collections of drops of water. Each one, on its own, may not be much, but they combine into a great, shifting, powerful mass. Yet, we can only carry so much around with us, and when we “know” we are down to our very last few, we make them count as much as you possibly can. But whether we’re makig them count or not, we know that we’re eventually going to run out.
In that sense, our entire lifetime, all the seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years, decades… all of it is simply a collection of “last moments.” It begins when we are born, and everything from birth to death is a part of how we reach the end of our story.
We might have a year of last moments left to us, or a day, or a decade, or we might drop dead immediately, but the point is…
Every moment is one of our last moments.
Let us live them, each and every one, with honor.