2 min read

Immortality is a Foolish Wish

A few reflections on why living forever should be no one's desire
Cyborg man standing in front of futuristic portal
I’d probably have to replace a few parts over time | Image James Bellerjeau

Greetings friends!

What drives the quest for immortality? An admixture of fear and greed. Fear of death. And greed for what seems sweet, for sensation without end. Both are foolish.

There’s certainly no need to fear dying. Dying is easy. There’s never been a person who failed the test. Willingly or not, they each made way for all of us who followed.

A person’s greed for endless life is similarly short-sighted. With enough time, an immortal would suffer crushing boredom, having seen and done everything. Even thoughts and ideas would yield under the weight of time.

Worse, far worse, than an individual eternal’s ennui would be the consequence of immortality on humankind. The end of death would mean the end of birth. If we add but a single soul per millennium, our numbers would approach infinity over an eternity.

How incredibly selfish (and arrogant) to think that humanity has reached its peak in us, such that we should not only live forever but be among the last who are born.

Value is found in scarcity. What we can obtain easily without limit, we do not value highly in possessing.

None of us knows our allotment of time, and that’s what makes it precious. We strive, we love, and we live in equal measure to our appreciation that our time is scarce.

The world is fleeting; all things pass away; or is it we that pass and they that stay? — Lucian

An ordered mind knows the value of life is precisely that it is limited.

What of those who accept they must pass away, but who wish to leave an indelible mark upon the world? Surely there number some such among authors. “My words will live on after me.”

This is an interesting thought. How does it benefit us if some part of us remains after we are gone? Is it fame that goads us, even if it's posthumous? Is it a desire to influence the world, to make it better for all who come?

I suspect it’s an ill-defined mix of emotions. We ameliorate the fear of dying by imagining some part of us or our influence will carry on. That, and the desire to make a mark is powerful and does not require that we remain to observe our handiwork.

It comforts me to remember that everything exists in a state of impermanent flux.

People will continue to come and go, as they always have. And that’s the way it should be.

To what shall I compare this world? To the white wake behind a ship that has rowed away at dawn? — Priest Mansei

Be well.

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