The average life expectancy for an American male is 76. That means 38 is the halfway point, statistically speaking. I am 39. Is this the first year of the rest of my life? Maybe. My family tends to live longer, so hopefully I get a bit more, but you never know. I could go tomorrow. We could all go tomorrow. But assuming humanity has not been wiped out by whatever stupid thing humanity has recently done, let’s look at only one death. My death. Not in a catastrophic fireball, not in a massive plane crash, but me, alone, dying, gone.
I was at a funeral last week, and as someone who has been to a lot of funerals as an outsider I can tell you that the worst part of a funeral is the grief. You probably already knew that. But when you are at a funeral as a mourner it is easy to get wrapped up in your own stuff. You have your memories on constant replay in your mind, you have your own current feelings of loss, and you have the creeping sensation of a future suddenly lacking an important puzzle piece which ruins the whole picture. Yes, there are other people there grieving, but you are one of them, and that makes a difference.
This time, at this funeral, I was struck by the family, people I knew, and I couldn’t help but imagine my own family in their places. If I were to die, what would be the reaction? What would my wife feel, my parents feel, my children feel? It was too much to even consider. I don’t want any of my loved ones to ever go through something like that. No, it’s my job to stay alive.
I’m not afraid of death. Not really. I’m not going to say that I’m looking forward to it, but I know that it’s coming eventually, and I’m excited rather than worried about what comes next. I don’t think it will be anything like this world, and I don’t think it will be like anything any of us expects. Whatever we think about the post-death adventure, I’m guessing we’re wrong. Or at least mostly wrong. But when it is my time to die, I will happily shuffle off and join the next party.
Wait, no I won’t. Because then my kids would be at my funeral, and they would be sad, and they would be going through all of my stuff and it would bring back happy memories, which would make them sad. They would wake up one day and realize it was my birthday, but that I was no longer available to wear the singing birthday hat. They would see Father’s Day on the calendar, and tears would come to their eyes. No, I can’t allow that. I need to shoot for immortality.
I’m not entirely sure how one becomes immortal. Perhaps by the time I am 76 someone will have figured it out. I assume there is someone out there working on this, yes? Excellent. Get that ready for me please. Maybe I will be some sort of cyborg. Maybe my brain will be transferred into a computer simulated reality where I can live on indefinitely until Windows crashes. Or maybe my body will just keep regenerating thanks to the new technology that hasn’t been invented yet. Whatever. Don’t care. Just keep me going. For my family.
At this point I’m pretty sure the only way to achieve immortality is to die. Kind of ironic, eh? As this life ends, my new one as part of the universe itself will begin and there will be no end. And eventually my family will join me there and we will all be with each other, and we will all be each other. And it will be awesome. Except that to get there, first comes pain and sadness. Perhaps that’s a small price to pay for eternal glory and wonder. I just wish I could somehow feel it for them. Why does everything come with a price?
Because really, it’s not me that I care about at all. Immortality is a very unselfish wish I think. But that doesn’t mean that I won’t enjoy my cyborg body. I totally will.
See you in the future.