"We are not dust and shadow…."
Recently I read a homily that included a casual observation—pulvis et umbra sunt—with this intended meaning: we are nothing but dust and shadow.
I'm familiar, as you are, with the standard poetic and philosophical thought bubble that argues on these lines:
"Man is a mote in the cosmic crystal spheres, a life is a bit in the vastness of being" and so on….
That doesn't ring true for me. My life is all my own, it is all, I share my being and my living with those I love, I think it's a big story and I love it.
Dust and shadow are involved, yes, but we can strive always to limit dust and shadow to circumstance, to a dust whirl, to a passing shadow….
I like to hear the song of the Sequichie of the Cherokees:
"O, listen! Hear! Sing with me, for I am joy."