You hear this word a lot in songs. To be honest, I don’t even think the artists know what it means half the time. Still, the word is ephemeral, and it’s one of my favorite words of all time. There’s two similar but differing definitions of ephemeral.
1. Lasting for only one day.
2. Lasting for a short amount of time.
These would be the Internet Explore of dictionaries, Merriam-Webster.
Still, there’s something about this word that makes them different in a metaphysical sense. What do I mean? Well, you would never say that we’re going on an ephemeral, one-day, trip to the beach. But, let’s say that you had this magically romantic and wonderful day at the beach. Well, suddenly that day becomes ephemeral. You wouldn’t say that I’m going on an ephemeral paper-writing spree during finals week. But, if that brief time in your life was somehow representative of a deep pain and depression you felt, it suddenly becomes ephemeral.
Basically, for something to be ephemeral, it must also be existential. Something can only be described as ephemeral if you look back in the past and call it that. But what sets this apart from other words is that it has no regard for the positive or negative nature of the situation.
My fiancee and I didn’t start dating until 2009, but there were two days in 2008 (one in January and one in December of that year) that we regard more fondly than all others. To us, those ephemeral days are deeply part of our relationship.
Now for some contrast. Two years ago I struggled mightily with lower back pain. God helped me through it, but for a few ephemeral months of my life I hated even existing in so much pain. This affected my identity and testimony, making it an important part of my life.
So I’d to counter with a definition of my own for the word ephemeral.
Meaningfully brief. A short amount of time that can be looked back as particularly important to the identity of an individual.
This should help. I just don’t want the word ephemeral to experience “literalization.” I want it to actually mean something important. More on “literalization” tomorrow.