One of my favorite themes is exploring the journey of an immortal hero. Since the advent of science fiction, possibilities on the subject has grown exponentially. Comic book heroes such as Wolverine and Vandal Savage are among most inspired heroes I examine on the psychological effect of living eternally.
Imagine. The day you met your life partner, you thought your life has just begun. Years later, you two had a child. Your wife and your child slowly grew older and older. You were now a grand dad except you looked younger than your grand child. Your wife passed away, and you grew less and less relevant with your family after 5-7 generations. You decided to visit the world and learn about every language and culture. You met someone else and started a new life. You had another family with that person except this time you learned to control your emotions, so you wouldn’t be devastated when all your loved ones leave the material world one after another again. You had hundred more families. Hundreds of years later, you learned and mastered every craft, sport, challenge known to men. You saw the rise and fall of civilizations. It’s been a thousand years, and it’s only a blink of your life time. There’s nothing to do anymore. You may have considered suicide as a result of loneliness and lack of direction. Sitting still for one second has the same psychology impact as sitting there for a hundred years. The paradigm of time became incomprehensible, and you had not reached the beginning yet. You sat there for a thousand years, and you walked for another thousand, being busy is no longer important. What is important anymore? At this point of the journey, that is the question worth asking.
What Is Important?
We’ve always considered its opposite: What would you do if you only have a month left to live? It’s a powerful motivational question. The urgency inspires us to realize how precious each second of our life is. The more I examine this question, however, I realized this thinking lacks a certain altruistic value. The answers seem to be always about tending to my family, explore the world, do something I’ve been putting off. It’s more about fulfilling a personal need, and by fulfilling those needs, we gain a sense of power against procrastination. In which case, we don’t need a shortened lifespan to be capable of finishing those things; it’s as if we’re asked to dash in order to learn we can move faster than walking. But what good is dashing, if it cannot sustain?
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” —Aristotle
Coming back to the immorality supposition: What would I wish to have achieved if I could live for eternity? In this mindset, wether or not we could finish that goal within our lifetime isn’t important anymore, so what’s more important is what is it we want to accomplish or contribute in a grander scale.
We always have this ticking time bomb hidden within our deep subconscious. We always know we are going to die some point yet it is covered up by some psychological barriers. It is that fear we will die someday dictates our day-to-day. What happens if that idea is replaced with an immortality mindset? Since we wouldn’t die, I can assume several psychological effect will take place:
Survival is no longer the issue, so self-preservation wouldn’t have much weight. We wouldn’t steal or rob In this case; does that mean we could become more altruistic?
Because scope of time is no longer the issue, is it possible it opens us up to ideas of projects that may take generations to accomplish instead of ones that take only months that fulfills our own needs?
Nothing moves slower than the mantle of the surface of the earth, but because there has been a tremendous amount of time passed, the changes are great. We could move mountains and build islands, but nowhere close to the power of the earth to move a whole continent and squeeze them to make Himalayas. Great things take time.
Would we still care about gossips, meaningless social competitions, checking our phones every 5 minutes? Because in the span of a hundred years, those gossips, news and material competitions no longer matter because only you survive old age and things are no longer the same.
Let’s say if I would never die, in this case, I may want to be the president of a country. Why president? So I could make the world a better place for my thousands of descendants. If making the world a better place is a priority, why do I need to be immortal in order to do so. I could start doing right now, and whatever isn’t finished, I had taught my children the necessary morality to build a better future, and they can continue to build a better world. Or perhaps you want to contribute your body for scientific research to prolong all human life. Again, you don’t need to be immortal and to be the sample to contribute to such effort. You can donate money to those specific medical institute or get into the medical field to find out the secret of prolonging life.
Because of lack of survival instinct and the increase of project scope, the things we think about in answering the eternity question would naturally stem out of ideals and no longer out of fear, guilt, and pity. Too many of us today are motivated by the attention deficit disorder: We cannot focus on one article more than 5 seconds before moving onto the next browser page. Since I believe I’m an immortal, I no longer lose patience, and I become capable of understanding what is important in life and what isn’t.
The immortality mindset I think could be an useful force to drive humanity to a better future. Whatever we cannot finish in this life time, we can pass it down to future generations. We’re no longer thinking things in the short term for ourselves, but for generations to come.