This is not an essay on religion or the esoteric, but a simple conclusion I have reached.

Mired in heavy traffic trying to cross the Bay Bridge Eastbound after a visit to my doctor in Timonium, I muttered, “I’ll be stuck here forever.”

I wouldn’t, of course. Thirty minutes later, I was on the bridge, crawling along but moving.

Already in a contemplative mood; the doctor’s visit was for a possible torn rotator cuff, threatening to stop the only recreation, golf, I could still physically do. I tried to distract myself by listening to the radio and heard the DJ on three separate stations talking about “forever” and it got me thinking.

Keeping my eyes on the road, I let my brain wander, pondering; what is forever?

For a week, I pondered. Now I postulate.

I have concluded that “Forever” is your life span. It is the only rational explanation. You are born. You live. You die. No one argues against axioms. Religions espouse the afterlife in many forms of Heaven and Hell, but every religion espouses that the afterlife differs from our life now. Whether ethereal, cosmic, blissful, agonizing, whatever, it is different.

Islam has seven levels of heaven (Surahs of Jannah) and one level of hell (Jahannam). All, when reached, are forever.

Judaism is historically more skeptical, initially believing that physical death is the end of life. The concept of an afterlife evolved later in the Jewish religion. Olam Ha-Ba is a heaven like afterlife and the Gan Eden is a Garden of Eden to which a person is returned after death. Gehinnom is hell, albeit for most, a temporary one, depending on how bad you were on earth. Both Olam Ha-Ba and Gan Eden are forever.

Christianity has the standard Heaven and Hell with Catholics adding an interim stop, Purgatory. Purgatory is transient, but Heaven and Hell are forever.

All the above destinations have one thing in common. Whatever part of you that may reach Heaven or Hell, it isn’t “You.” It’s a derivative of you, but the original you ceased to exist upon death.

Whatever part of you that may reach Heaven or Hell, it isn’t “You.”

There are hundreds of quotes either ruminating on “forever” or contemplating “forever.”

I have four favorites, not just because they are fascinating, but because I can envision them applying to my own life.

Dream as if you’ll live forever. Live as if you’ll die today. (James dean)

I have always done the former and strive to accomplish the latter.

Photography is a way of feeling, of touching, of loving. What you have caught on film is captured forever…it remembers little things, long after you have forgotten everything. (Aaron Siskind)

I have not been a fan of taking photos because they are two-dimensional and appeal to only one of our senses. I have believed that living in the moment and absorbing the sights, sounds and smells is better. The last living sibling of my family, I recently looked at photos of my mother when she was young, and appreciated the photography and what Aaron Siskin said.

A broken bone can heal, but the wound a word opens can fester forever. (Jessamyn West)

The old adage, “Sticks and stones can break my bones but words can never hurt me,” is no longer true. In today’s social media venue, it is the words that hurt you. Words can and will destroy you.

The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever. (Jacques Yves Cousteau)

All my life I have had a connection to the sea. I grew up near the beach in South Boston. Raced sailboats. Sailed in the US Merchant Marine and loaded/discharged foreign cargoes from ships until I retired. Now, I stand at the boardwalk in Bethany Beach, listening to the surf lap at the shore and stare out to sea at the horizon. But that is my world. I am alive. That is my forever. I can stare all I want at my forever horizon, but I can’t see past it.

So, when you hear the phrase, “Forever and a day,” keep in mind it is your forever but someone else’s day. You have had yours.

Forever and a day.

Walter Curran

Ocean View