To Live Forever

I guess I’m dying. No new news here. We all are, little by little. I’m always trying to find a way to make sense of it all. Of course, the more I think about it, the more elusive the answers.

Every so often, when the world has taken it up a notch by falling further into dire straits from a combination of war, disaster and economic turmoil, I’ll recall a graphic religious tract from 30+ years ago depicting society in chaos and unrest. It ends showing a family man over-worked, struggling to make a day’s wage consisting of a loaf of bread. Once he has the loaf in his hands, he decides not to share it with his family. “It’s all mine. After all, I worked for it.” The message, of course, is how, during ‘The End Times’, people – even family members – will turn on each other, and the only path to salvation is through Jesus.

I still find that tract both disturbing and hopeful. I like to think that under such disturbing circumstances I would not be so selfish and, instead, hope to do the altruistic thing. But it takes a great deal of faith to accept one’s Earthly ending.

Achilles in the epic movie “Troy” makes the assertion that the gods are jealous of us humans and our mortality. He suggests life is so fleeting that we’ll never be as beautiful or as vibrant as we are at this very moment. Because of their immortality, the gods can never experience a slow demise.

Speaking of mortality, do you ever wonder what will become of some of those things that define you? Pictures of you? Letters written from you? Your own memories of you? All the things you will share, have shared, with others who might be asking the very same question – what will become of the essence of who I am? Can you imagine a world where you’re never thought of ever again? There is this constant ebb and flow between what makes life joyous and what makes it intolerable, and in the middle, a sort of stasis, where one can so easily be caught up in the questions surrounding mortality.

With some envy, I will read stories or watch dramatizations of well-known artists who have struggled through life while creating a vision to share with others. There is no end to the vision. The vision is eternal, but the body, the instrument by which the vision is created, decays. The Mexican painter Frida Kahlo, an accident victim at a young age, suffering painful relapses all her life, demands that her “Judas of a body” be burned rather than buried. Most artists paint visions or dreams, whereas a number of Kahlo’s paintings depict her own suffering.

Perhaps this is what Achilles is referring to. Imagine the gods envious of someone fading away, day by day, while trying with every ounce of his/her fiber to give life meaning. To be honest, I’m not buying it. I don’t believe any god would ever want to be dead.


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