Maybe in the future we’ll live forever. Or rather, the super rich will live forever. All the others will keep working and dying like they’ve been doing since the dawn of time. After all, if nobody ever died, in no time we would exceed any residual ability of the earth to keep in balance its innumerable ecosystems. We would end up dying of our self-engineered immortality.
This truly is a paradoxical scenario — and yet it’s also one of the most probable. I mean, unless we as a species manage to carry out a Digital Ascension, — which entails “people dying in the flesh and being uploaded into a computer and remaining conscious.” — as hypothesized by Jaron Lanier.
But this is another story, and I’m digressing even before having began this post properly — just as if I already were immortal and had at my disposal eons and eons.
Seize the day
In short, what I wanted to say is that we are ephemeral creatures. Ephemeral creatures who are also profoundly conscious of their own mortality — though we may not be the only ones.
This condition, this awareness, can lead to dread and hopelessness. To fatalism. To immobility. After all, what’s the point of doing something, anything, if death is what awaits us all at the end of the road?
Panta rhei — everything flows
And yet, in the grand scheme of things, perhaps those molecules will be transformed and reused to give life to new creatures, new trees, new poems. Who knows? Maybe in some corner of the universe there’s even a planet made of all the molecules of the poets of the universe — both humans and aliens. A planet that is just the first molecule of a new and immense new being which eons from now will be looking at the universe with fresh eyes and celebrating, once again, its mysterious beauty.
Nothing Gold Can Stay — a different perspective
However, this ephemeral condition of ours is also what can free us from the shackles of our fears, of our fatalism.
To start with, the fact nothing lasts forever doesn’t also entail that nothing is worth doing. Duration is just one among innumerable other variables. It can certainly be an important aspect for certain things, but it should never be considered the only one.
For example, what would you willing to pay to experience an hour of perfect and total knowledge about something you really care for? Even knowing that afterward you could never remember such a knowledge correctly? You see, the simple awareness that there is a way to break through can be enough. The awareness of more and unfathomable possibilities.
Secondly, even if nothing really counts, we can still choose how to react to our condition.
It’s in there our humanity lies. In the choices we make once we know what it is we are looking at. Be it black oblivion or heaven, reincarnation or Nirvana. And even in a universe where cause and effect are inextricably linked, and free will is therefore a mere illusion, we can’t discount a simple fact: how is it that before the universe exploded into existence time and space were radically different from the ones we experience nowadays? How is it that cause and effect must be forfeited exactly when we come to that original moment?
Big bang and creativity
Obviously I don’t have any answers. Only doubts and wagon-loads of questions. But one thing I know: irrespective of all the questions, of all the debates about free will and the meaning of life, I love the universe.
I love it with a healthy degree of fearful circumspection. Because, you see, it came into existence just like it happens for me with a new idea, a new creative idea.
One moment I’ve nothing. Then I blink, I hear a song. Think of an old friend. And all of a sudden where there was nothing there’s something.
So I keep piling up my questions about the universe. And I keep writing. I keep reading too. And hope whoever or whatever is writing the Master Plot knows their shit. Because, you see, some characters… they really grew on me.
Nothing Gold Can Stay is a poem by Robert Frost