"Vanity of vanities," says the Preacher, Vanity of vanities! All is vanity." (Ecclesiastes 1:2)
The Hebrew word translated "vanity" is "Hebel", which means a vapor or cloud, As the Apostle James explains; Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. (James 4:14) In Ecclesiastes, the Preacher is not saying that life is vain and without meaning or consequences, but that it is transitory and won't last.
Our lives are indeed relatively short in light of eternity, but eternally meaningful. Realizing this causes me to be a little nostalgic about the "good old days" and regretful about some of the "not so good" days gone by. Whether good or bad, yesterday is gone, tomorrow is not promised. As they say, "today is a gift of God. That's why they call it the present." So I have been thinking about what really matters now.
What really matters now? As we get older, there are fewer things that really matter, that is, those things that have lasting importance and value. Our love for God matters; You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. (Matthew 22:37) Our love for His Church, our family and friends also matters now; Brethren, my heart's desire and my prayer to God for them is for their salvation. (Romans 10:1)
Yes "vanity of vanities, all is vanity!". The Preacher understood that life is precious and meaningful, but transitory. Therefore, writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, he encouraged us to live our lives with godly wisdom and with a focus on what really matters now and for all eternity; The conclusion when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person. (Ecclesiastes 12:13)