"A tomb now suffices him for whom the world was not sufficient."
- Purported epitaph on the tomb of Alexander the Great
It is uncanny how one's world can shrink from the spacious opulence we consider our birthright to the minuscule confines of a grave.
If it was true that Alexander wept because there were no more worlds to conquer then what of the weeping when all the worlds collapse into the vacuity of death?
One has no standing to make spiritual pronouncements on the life of another, but his own epitaph makes an indictment that stings with irony.
"What shall it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose the essence of who he is?" asked Jesus (and I paraphrase).
Death equalizes those shells we confuse with or true lives and the possessions we hope will define us. No high office nor certificate of accomplishment is carried into eternity toward which we all progress. Even our legacies in this world are often evaluated without respect to those accomplishments we deemed most significant.
"It is appointed unto man once to die and after that, the judgment," the final evaluation, the ultimate assessment of who we were and what we did. (See Heb. 9:26-27)'
Alexander valued conquest. Whatever we value will write our epitaph for us. Our lives will be summed up in a few short words or a short dash between two dates.
Perhaps it can be said of all conquerors that ultimately, they conquered nothing. At the same time, there are men and women who are building legacies that will be go on blessing others long after they are gone. They will have lost themselves to find themselves. They will have invested themselves in something eternal and infinite and, in doing so, in the lives of other.
Those who say that does not count are as pitiable as Alexander. Those for whom it matters, can never be confined. They are truly free and truly fulfilled now and forever.