“If you could live forever, would you want to?”
Taken by surprise at the stranger’s question, I didn’t stop to think. I blurted out the usual socially-acceptable response. “No, I don’t think so. It’s difficult to imagine surviving beyond the deaths of my children and future grandchildren.” (Well, to be honest, this conversation took place during a Spanish language meetup. So what I responded was more like, “No lo pienso. Es difícil imaginar sobreviviendo mas allá que los muertos de mis hijos y nietos y todos.”)
But later, I pondered over the question. I also discussed it with my two younger kids, who, like me, love deep discussions about theoretical topics. And here is what I concluded:
Yes. I would like to live forever. As an extremely curious individual, I would love to be able to observe as the world changes over time. How will people dress in two hundred years? What sort of transportation will there be in half a century? Where will we live? What medical breakthroughs will there be? Will everyone eventually go vegan, or supplement their diets with insects instead of red meat? Will we finally colonize Mars or find intelligent life on other planets? Will Yellowstone ever erupt, filling the air with ash and plunging the planet into an instant ice age?
Inquiring minds want to know.
But if I am to drink of the fountain of youth, I have a few limits and prerequisites:
1. If I have to pull a Voldemort and create horcruxes in order to live forever, then I’m out. Huh-uh. A big, fat No-Way-José. I don’t want the snake eyes or the evil attitude.
2. Ditto for selling my soul to the devil.
Renting it for awhle may be acceptable, depending on the terms of contract.
3. If the elixir of life contains the blood of young children, then I will also have to pass. Because ew. I’d prefer Kool-aid. Or like, a red pill.
4. I want to remain at my current age. If my body will continue to age and decay for the next couple hundred years, well, then that could get old. Even if I don’t.
It’s interesting that this topic came up, since I just celebrated my 42nd birthday a few days ago. I don’t mind being middle aged. At least, not so far. I still feel like I did when I was 20. I still dance like I did when I was 20. I’m still just as flexible, can run just as fast, turn cartwheels just as well, and can still show off on roller skates. I even wear the same clothing size as I did back then. (Yes, I still own exactly one article of clothing — an expensive silk peignoir that I bought just before my 21st birthday, and it still fits well). Yes, my metabolism has slowed down a little. I have more softness around the middle. And I have (gasp!) exactly one gray hair on my head. But other than that, little has changed.
Who knows? Maybe I already stopped aging, just like Adeline, and Tuck, and Peter Pan. Maybe I already hold the key to eternal youth.
In that case, the best I can hope for, in terms of living forever beyond the misty veil of time, is to write. Perhaps I will someday pen stories that will be passed from generation to generation. Then my name and my work may continue long after I’m gone. As for those I love, well, many of you I have already written. Your faces, your quirks, the way you laugh, the way your eyes crinkle when you laugh, the way you chew the corner of your lip without realizing it, the way you walk, the lilt in your voice, the way your mouth curls when you speak, the words you say — I will capture those with my
stalker writer skills of observation and memory. I will breath you to life with my fingers, and in this way, you will live forever, too.
Yes, I know. I’d rather drink from the fountain of eternal youth, too. But this is the best I can offer.
Poet — Bastille
Forever Young — Alphaville