2008.03.10 About Being Mortal

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A hush fell upon the room. Nobody expected me to get up again, and my slow return to standing could have been twisted into fodder to create a cult by personalities more theatrically gifted. Instead I cast a baleful gaze across them all, willing them to shrink back. With that gaze I showed them what it was to taste death, and to be paradoxically spat out from it.

It worked, that lie. I went from the room untroubled by its foul denizens, free to try to forget my miseries in a new place. Chief among those miseries was the maddening truth: that I cannot die.

I wished immortality upon myself, repeatedly, and one of those modes of wishing ended up working. The awfulness of the curse took a long, long time to reveal itself to my feeble understanding. Nothing as mundane as the pessimisms regarding life as suffering, or as sentimental as mourning repeated loss. It's more fundamental than that.

Deep within our selves is an understanding of our mortality. It can be denied, or neglected, or temporarily numbed. But that spark makes things real. It makes things matter. No matter how feeble our accomplishments or dull our lives, they are our individual experiences, and precious precisely because of their finite nature. Most precious are those instants which are the most fleeting, and most rare.

I stand outside, tasting air that is sweet and clear, but whose sweetness and clearness are lost on me simply because I've become too accustomed to them. A glorious sun shines upon me, but I can no longer see it, having been habituated to its glory. I've done it all before. Long gone are the years when I reveled in my immortality. I wince to think of them now, how I frittered away the experiences in a rush of gloating. All too soon, I had to struggle to try finding things that would scare me. After the fear was gone, the thrill soon disappeared too. And, just like that, everything gradually mattered less and less.

It's painful, how clearly my own limitations are spelled out to me. This is who and what I am, all that I can be. Or, rather, the most I can be - because usually I find myself actually being something much less. And, as my motivation to continue trying to pretend to be a person with a life wanes, I see how my ultimate limitation is my sanity. For it at least is finite.

And so, while I occasionally try to do something worth remembering with my finite memory, mostly I just focus on the unending work of remembering things. I think about love and loss and all the things which could be precious to me once. I try not to think about how, after I finally go insane, the time I spent actually living a worthwhile life will be nearly infinitely dwarfed by the time I will spend worthlessly.

All immortality has done is to dilute my existence into meaninglessness.