To Lifespans (first letter)

I don’t know much about monkeys or lake trout,
but when it comes to people, I’ve got a basic grip on the idea of you.
You last just long enough for our mortality to appear suspended (from day to day and year to year). It’s hidden in the moment, from the surface of our bodies to the depths of our thoughts. Some people think they’ll live forever. You can lose sight of how much you change over time. You can forget who you’ve been, over and over again.
I’m just figuring this out. It’s been taking me a while. I’m not even remotely a young adult anymore. The thought of meeting my younger self (or selves) is now so unnerving.
People fall in love but sometimes end up hating each other (finding themselves completely incapable of resuscitating former feelings). A soldier becomes a social worker who later tries a little acting. A loving child becomes a ruthless liar. The most learned people amongst us might confess to a sense of complete ignorance, change their minds, then change them back again.
Understanding is repeatedly lost and found. You’re that lasting and brief. Each generation figures it out alone in public.

You’re so short. To find, make, or accept one’s self — to come to terms with what one is or might be — can seem like the closing of a book or the turn of a screw. You might go up on a shelf or give in to a pain that makes you confess to anything. Your curtness gets in the way of happiness for most.
If and when the wealthy finally branch off from the rest of our species, living into the distant future as genetically reconfigured works of Art, I suspect you’ll still be too long and too little.