Truly Powerful People (356)

Join me in inspiring truly powerful people. Each day I will add a new thought, story or idea to support your quest and mine.

Last night I watched Werner Herzog’s film, Cave of Forgotten Dreams, about the incredible paintings found in the Chauvet caves in southern France. Over 30,000 years ago, for reasons about which we can only speculate, people painted images of horses, bears, lions, and rhinoceros; they left hand prints and other markings. These are the oldest known images created by humankind. They are shocking in precision, shape, and delicacy of line. They are contemporary – in some of the shots as the camera panned across the images, I could swear that Picasso had spent some time in the cave working out his chiaroscuro. Many of the images overlap and carbon dating tells us that there was 5,000 years between the earlier and later images yet they live as one cohesive intention as if drawn by a single hand.

In the film, Herzog made a statement that seems especially appropriate to ponder on this day. He said, “These people did not live in history.” They did not have clocks or calendars. They did not take classes in the history of the ice age or tribal war in the year 37,000b.c.e; they would never think to distinguish between before and after the contemporary era; the concept of an era would be meaningless, the word “contemporary” would be lost on them. They did not locate themselves in their lives in the same way we do.

It is a leap year and we think we have an extra day. I’ve read the same question in multiple places over the past few days, “What will you do with your extra day?” Having just seen the film I ask myself, “Isn’t every day of life an extra day?” If I lived “out of history” would I note this day as somehow special? I hope so, but not because I consider it a bonus gift in the cereal box of my life. This leap year notion is made possible by how we count, a small hiccup necessary to keep our numbers in line with the cycles of the moon. If I count this day as special, how do I count the other 365 days? Ordinary? I guess a better question is, “What am I counting?”

What if, like today, you went out tomorrow and did something special to mark the extra day of life that you have. And the next day, too. And the next. What if you woke up every morning and asked yourself, “What will I do with my extra day?”

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