Posts Tagged ‘immortality’


May 16, 2013

UnknownNone of my 300+ past blog posts directly tackled the biggest fact of human existence: that it ends.

First let’s be clear: death is death. There’s nothing afterward, desperately though we crave a different answer. Not even most religious believers quite succeed in deluding themselves; if they did, they’d welcome their deaths, as would their loved ones. Few do.

How to live in the face of death is the one great philosophical question each of us must confront, consciously or unconsciously. Happy endings are only temporary. Every life finally ends in tragedy, because you lose everything.

True; but you do get to enjoy it for a while, and that itself is something of a miracle, a fantastic gift vouchsafed by an uncaring cosmos. (Actually an accident, a fluke.) No law of nature says you had to exist at all. Let alone with a mind capable of appreciating it. That the atoms in a brain, each utterly lifeless, somehow come together to enable us to see, to think, to feel, to love, to be, and to know it, is another virtual miracle.

And you’re pissed you weren’t given immortality besides? Come on.

imagesYet nonexistence is terrifying; we can’t even wrap our minds around what it means. And it doesn’t assuage the loss to say I was also nonexistent for the eternity before my birth, or that being dead, I similarly won’t be aware of it. But sandwiched between those black abysses of nothingness is this brilliant little spark of light that I live. So I keep my focus on the light and not the dark.

You play the cards you’re dealt; no use wishing they were different; or for cards not even in the deck. images-1But play them to the hilt, knowing you’ll get no others. And the game is not for points, or money, but feeling. As I’ve stressed, the only source of meaning in Creation is the feelings of beings who can feel. Maximizing positive feelings is everything. That’s not amoral; acting morally is part of feeling good.

Living thusly in the face of death has always been the human condition. But it won’t be forever.

Ultimately, death is a medical problem. A very tough problem, yes, but don’t forget our species’ motto: The difficult we do at once, the impossible takes a little longer. The fight against death is our greatest battle, and we shall prevail.

Unknown-1We’ve already made considerable headway. One thing we’ve learned, for example, is the role of little structures called telomeres at the ends of chromosomes. With every cell division and replacement, telomeres shrink. And when you’re out of telomeres – you’re out. Can this be cured? Well, why not?

I don’t expect it soon enough to save me, I’m 65. But my daughter is 20, and on present form she should reach 100, and if she does, then I’ll bet she’s home free.

images-2This will change human existence in ways far beyond anyone’s ability to foresee. Some of course would see nothing but bad, and there would indeed be problems. Like overpopulation (but would we even continue having kids?); and if you worry about inequality now, just wait till immortality becomes available – probably with a pricetag many can’t afford.

But all this really just concerns a transitory stage of human evolution, with our existences still tied to corporeal bodies. Surely that won’t last.

Now how’s that for optimism?