The course of human life from birth to death has often been
described as a cycle. One has even spoken of a human “life cycle“, from childhood through various stages of growth, maturation, and decline to a “second childhood” in old age. However, such talk is superficial and thoughtless. For example, interpreting old age as a second childhood has led to the false belief that older women and men are “asexual” like children and have no sexual needs or capacities. At any rate, for the individual, life is not cyclical, i.e. once it has ended, it does not begin again. Faced with this unpleasant truth, certain religious beliefs assume a life cycle of another sort – a “transmigration of souls”, i.e. the possibility that someone can be reborn in another life as another person or as an animal, but in the present scientific context, we have to put such beliefs aside. One can, however, describe the life of a species, including the species man (homo sapiens), in cyclical terms: Each new generation is born, lives, and dies just as its progenitors - a pattern that is repeated over and over again. Still, in this general sense, the description does not say very much. After all, in our modern world, the experiences of each generation are quite different from the one that preceded it. Not only that: On the personal level the experiences are always very specific and, in the final analysis, incomparable. In short:
The beauty and dignity of each human life are due to the fact that it is unique and transitory. Once lived, it cannot be lived again. This is also true of each of life’s fleeting moments. Once they have passed, they never return.