The name of this blog, Rainbow Juice, is intentional.
The rainbow signifies unity from diversity. It is holistic. The arch suggests the idea of looking at the over-arching concepts: the big picture. To create a rainbow requires air, fire (the sun) and water (raindrops) and us to see it from the earth.
Juice suggests an extract; hence rainbow juice is extracting the elements from the rainbow, translating them and making them accessible to us. Juice also refreshes us and here it symbolises our nutritional quest for understanding, compassion and enlightenment.

Wednesday 24 April 2024

Vita Brevis, Vita Continuus

Cueva de las Manos,
How long is your life? Many would answer that life is fleeting. Indeed, there is a saying – Ars longa, vita brevis – claiming that art is long, and life is short.

Well, yes, it is, when viewed in cosmic terms. Three score and ten (70 years) is the supposed appointed human life expectation. That is just a blink compared with the age of the Universe.

Compared with how long Homo sapiens have been treading the Earth (200,000 – 300,000 years) 70 years is fleeting. Suppose you visualise your allotted 70 years as 7 cm – the average length of a man’s thumb. Then the first Homo sapiens began striding across the Earth some 200 to 300m away from us. That’s a lot of thumb lengths.

Measured like this then, our human lives are short and fleeting.

And art is long.

Speaking of art. There is another perspective with which we could look at our lives. And, there is no need to change the timeline with which we considered life’s fleeting nature.

All around the world there is art from millennia ago – cave art.

No matter who we are, or what part of the world we come from, it is likely that an ancestor of ours was responsible for (or witnessed the making of) one or more of these paintings.

One of the oldest sites is the cave of Maltravieso in Spain. Uranium-thorium dating gives a date of 64,000 years ago for a hand-stencil in that cave. It is thought that the creator of this hand-stencil was possibly Homo neanderthalensis. Since modern Europeans have around 1% - 3% Neanderthal DNA then, if you have European ancestry, were the paintings in this cave created by an ancestor of yours?

Or, further East. Hand-stencilling found on a cave on the island of Sulawesi, in Indonesia, are dated to 39,900 years ago. What is of further interest is that paintings of an almost life-size Sulawesi warty pig, found in 2021, has been dated to at least 45,000 years old. This makes it the oldest figurative cave art in the world. Perhaps your ancestor caught the pig, or painted the pig, or cooked and ate the pig around a fire with companions?

In the Cave of Hands (Cueva de las Manos) in Argentina there are hundreds of hands stencilled on rock walls in a number of collages. The earliest of these paintings were stencilled around 9,000 years ago, and the youngest just 1,300 years ago. Perhaps a hand from an ancestor of yours is amongst them?

The final example in this blog of cave art comes from Australia. At a site known as Nawarla Gabarnmung (Hole in the Rock) in Arnhem Land, far north Australia, the walls are covered with paintings of fish, crocodiles, wallabies, people, and spiritual beings. These depictions are at least 44,000 years old, and could be as old as 60,000 years. These paintings were created by the ancestors of someone alive today.

The purpose of the above examples is to show that we are all part of a continuous life. We may not know the name of those wo created these cave art pieces, but we can be sure they were ancestors of ours, or of someone we know.

So, yes, our individual lives may be fleeting, but our lives are part of a continuing cycle of life. A life cycle that has been in existence for at least 300,000 years.

Let us amend that Latin phrase then:

Ars longa, Vita brevis, Vita continuus.

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