Thursday, January 11, 2007

Who Wants to Live Forever Anyway?

I’m getting old too darn fast. There are more years behind me now than in front of me.

I used to think that being immortal would be pretty cool. Imagine - never dying; never growing old. It’s the ultimate dream, isn’t it? The unattainable prize that everyone thinks about at some moment in their lives.

When I was younger I WAS immortal, or at least I acted like it. Sometimes, between bursts of youthful exuberance and flurries of foolhardy risks I would experience rare moments of introspection. Sometimes I would think about mortality and wonder whether older people worry about death and wish for immortality more than younger people. It seemed sensible that death and mortality would weigh more heavily on the mind of an older person than a younger one. One would think that mortality would become more and more an issue as a person’s remaining time became less and less.

But now that I’m *ahem* getting up there, I have come to realize that, for me, quite the opposite is true. The older I get, the less attractive immortality looks. I see the changing world around me and realize that I really don’t want to live forever. Not on this planet, anyway. With each passing day I am becoming a creature of a different time; a different era. A different world. Day by passing day, I become less and less comfortable with what our society is becoming and my place in it. Vague feelings of disconnect grow stronger. Sometimes I feel as though I no longer belong here.

Sure, it would be wonderful to be able to witness what the distant future holds for my family. To walk my great-great-great-great-granddaughter (Dr. INP, the Prime Minister of Canada) down the aisle at her wedding ceremony; to hold her first born in my hands; to be there down the road to offer support, comfort and love during those times when my family needs it.

But, there’s more to life than family. In order to live, one must interact with the world. To be there with my family down the road, I would also have to be there in all other respects - in their time and in their world. Yikes. I can barely tolerate the thought of what the world would be like in 25 years, let alone in one-hundred or two-hundred years Hell, sometimes I can barely tolerate the thought of what it is like today.

Whatever the case, as you can probably tell, I’ve pretty well come to terms with my mortality. In fact, in a weird way, I almost appreciate, rather than resent, the limited time I have on this planet. Whether by default or design, our natural lifespan seems, to me, to be just perfect. Not too short to be fleeting and not too long to be tiresome. And the knowledge that it’s all going to come to an end someday certainly makes every experience that much more precious. In fact, I would venture to guess that if we weren’t mortal, nothing at all would be precious.

So, in celebration of this precious life, from this mortal, middle-aged man to you, a gift. Three suggestions for making the most out of your all too finite life

1. Have your children before you get too old. If you do, you may very well get to meet your great-grandchild, just as my great-grandmother did with me. It's a mistake to artificially postpone parenthood just to acquire more stuff. And don’t wait for the right time. It may never come. And anyway, when is it ever the wrong time to give life? Just do it. And, may I add - speaking as a man who will be in his sixties when his last child is in University - do it early, get it over with and then you and your spouse can enjoy your later years free from the little blighters.

2. Do not – I repeat – DO NOT change with the times. Respect the generation that spawned you and try to act your age. Sure, movie, TV and music stars are always reinventing themselves. But that’s because they are shallow, narcisstic idiots, desperately clinging to the illusion of youth. They have no sense of self worth beyond what they see in, or snort off, the mirror. The reason they need to constantly “evolve” is to sucker new generations into buying their crap so they can stay rich and famous. So, they whore themselves out to every new trend that comes along. Trust me – this only works when you have a good plastic surgeon and publicist. It’s not hip for a forty year old to listen to Madonna or Fitty Cent, greet people with “whatup” and dress in ridiculously oversized clothes. It’s pathetic.

3. Finally – when your time finally comes – die well. Unless you go suddenly, you’ll likely have some time to come to terms with your pending demise. So remember, people are watching. You are only as good as your last gig. Go out like a whimpering sobbing bag of jelly and that’s the way you’ll be remembered. Despite what they say about taxes; death is really the only inevitable thing about life. If you have to face it, face it with all the dignity, strength and resolve you can muster. If you are going to teach your children or family anything, let it be how to die. It will not be a lesson wasted.

For now though, if you are still reading this, I hope that last suggestion can be deferred for a long, long time.

2 Comments:

Blogger Candace said...

You make some excellent points! I particularly like the "dress your age" and "die well" ones.

2:04 AM  
Blogger maz2 said...

Montaigne:

XVII.

THAT TO STUDY PHILOSOPHY IS TO LEARN TO DIE

CICERO says "that to study philosophy is nothing but to prepare one's self to die." The reason of which is,...-

http://oregonstate.edu/instruct/phl302/texts/montaigne/montaigne-essays--5.html

3:16 PM  

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