Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Who Wants To Live Forever?

I was reading a blog the other day about a funeral. I promise that I’m not obsessed with death lately. I’ve blogged about the glowing crosses, the death of a dog, and now this, but I’m really not this morose or morbid; I promise. I asked my husband to read the entry on Mr. Baatard’s blog, and a conversation began regarding life and death.

My husband and I both subscribe to the carpe diem philosophy. Life is short and finite, so seize the day. That does not mean that we don’t live by a code of conduct. We do. We live so that we can enjoy life, enrich our minds, and help our children grow well so that our genes, ideals, and love live on with them. Both of us had great experiences and ideals instilled in us by our parents, so we hope to pass those on to our children as well.

My husband began by saying that he would like it if he could somehow download his brain so that he could go on thinking into the future, well past the time that his body was through with living. He wants to keep on with his chosen profession of helping to understand the human body to prevent and cure diseases. He didn’t say this, but I can safely say that he thinks he will not have enough time (or grant money) to do any research completely.

I feel differently. As I was listening to him discuss having a downloaded brain, I was repulsed by the idea. My revulsion was not from my brain living without my body, but from the thought that I would have to keep going on past when my body was through with life. Just imagining it made me weary.

I wish I knew what caused our different attitudes. It could be our life experiences. Nearly four years ago, Phill was diagnosed with a brain tumor. It was benign, has been removed, and most people would never know it now. However, he truly felt that his life could be over when his first child was just seven weeks of age. Did I feel that way? Yes. We spent that day before the surgery discussing what my plan would be if he died. Now that he’s recovered from that ordeal, he sees life as incredibly short. While I went through a relatively difficult recovery from the birth of my first child, I never knew the danger I was in so I do not have the same perspective.

Or could the difference in our attitudes be that each day he goes to work mulling over data from experiments or saving babies from their diseases and I am here at home parenting each day. No day is exactly the same for us, and you parents out there know that kids throw different situations at you each day. I can’t say my day is monotonous, but it is the same routine every day, every night. I think my revulsion about my brain continuing on without my body is because I am weary in the here and now.

As I age and I see my demise getting closer, perhaps I will change my mind. Right now, I prefer for my life to be finite. As long as that final day comes long after my children are grown.

And, there is no greater poem to post regarding this topic.

To the Virgins, To Make Much of Time
By Robert Herrick

Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
Old Time is still a-flying;
And this same flower that smiles to-day,
To-morrow will be dying.

The glorious lamp of heaven, the sun,
The higher he’s a-getting,
The sooner will his race be run,
And nearer he’s to setting.

That age is best which is the first,
When youth and blood are warmer;
But being spent, the worse and worst
Times still succeed the former.

Then be not coy, but use your time,
And while ye may, go marry;
For, having lost but once your prime,
You may forever tarry.

1 comment:

Mr. Baatard said...

I am very happ that I was able to foster some discussion. This was a great post!

I've pondered the idea of immortality; is it good or bad, could we handle it, etc. I ask myself why would anyone want to live forever, and the obvious answer is that the alternative is death.

but "why not" is not an answer to "why". Fear or avoidance of death cannot be the reason to embrace life. The motivation must necessarily lie in life. Our awareness of life is both conceptual and experiential. To that end we need both a mind and a body; a mind to conceive of life, and a body to expereince it. If a perfect copy of my mind was in a computer, would I still be alive?