Listening to Evanescence’s haunting, penetrating and ironically titled ballad, “My Immortal” reminds me of the lessons tied to the rock/metal/gothic band’s intriguing name. Evanescence (synonyms include ephemeral, vanishing, transitory and temporary) applies to everything, from the Ottoman Empire which lasted 600 years (until its post-WWI demise) to a snowflake which may last 6 seconds before, poof, it’s gone.
A 600-year-old nation state, especially when compared to the United States’ mere 240-year history, may seem to have been an enduring one. Yet, when compared to the entirety of Earth history, six centuries is barely a blip.
At its peak
I want my students to fathom evanescence. I want them to appreciate that our class is evanescent. High school is evanescent. I am evanescent. They are evanescent. There isn’t anything that isn’t evanescent. All human history is a spectacularly small wisp of time.
On first reflection, depending upon perspective, evanescence would appear to be either comforting or heartbreaking. Comforting in understanding that even the worst times won’t last. Heartbreaking in knowing that the best times, too, are fleeting.
Yet there is a third viewpoint. During our most exhilarating and satisfying moments, knowing of their evanescence, we can consciously choose to savor and appreciate them, enriching our joy.