Wouldn’t it be great to live forever; to age so slowly that 100 years is like a single year of life; and to be impervious to any type of death? When most people are asked that, they immediately say “yes”, but if they thought it through, would their answer be the same? I really don’t think it would.
If you couldn’t die, no matter what, and you aged very slowly, you would out live everyone you know and love. If you were married, you would watch your spouse wither and die. And if you had kids, you would watch them grow old and die, too.
All your friends would also soon (at least to you) grow old and die, but, of course, you would have disappeared from their lives long before that. You would have had to, because otherwise they would begin to question why they were so old and yet you hadn’t changed.
Okay, so, you disappear, but how do you reestablish yourself? Maybe you think you can creep around the underworld buying a new identity—good luck with that, it’s probably not as easy as it looks on TV—and what about money and credentials? Do you reestablish yourself as some long-lost relative of your old self so that you can inherit whatever small amount of money you managed to accumulate? And what if you didn’t accumulate anything other than a small pension; after all, most of us are not financial geniuses, nor do we have extraordinary skills that will make us millions of dollars. For the most part, we are ordinary people who live ordinary lives.
So, maybe you’ll go back to school and develop a different skill set so you can update your credentials and get a new job. (Wow…think about it…centuries of going to school, getting jobs, falling in love, raising families, and then disappearing. Boy, doesn’t that sound like fun?)
If you’re lucky, you’ll get to retire when you’re “70” (oh, after two or three thousand years of gracefull aging), and then what will you do? Go fishing for the next millennia or so? Travel…hmmm, maybe by then they’ll have space colonies, because it certainly won’t take a hundred years to see all the sites in the world.
In the meantime, think of all the lives you can affect with a smile, a gentle touch, or a tender hug. Think of all the music you’ll hear, the books you’ll be able to read, and the rainbows you’ll see. But I wonder if it’s enough to offset all the wars and natural disasters you’ll have to witness, too. How selfless can we learn to be if we have to hang around for two or three thousand years, or will it merely drive us insane knowing that we can’t die, while we watch so many others do so?
There is wonder and beauty in the world all around us, but there is also fear and despair, and I don’t think living forever will change that, it will only change which of those we focus on. So, is living forever a curse or a blessing? I don’t know, but I do know that I would rather not find out.