I am alive. I am not dead. Through inference of my living and not dying, I am immortal. Or at least that seems to be the rationale my mind offers for why I remain unafraid of life threatening illnesses, car crashes, plane crashes, shootings, murderers and random accidents. Even as the shadow of death looms nearer to my life through its presence at the bedside of loved ones – I remain unafraid as I watch the spectre of death go about its business.
It is an odd confidence so many of us have – that feeling that we are somehow immortal. It is the sense that we will never die or at the very least, the sense that we will not be dying anytime soon. Despite personal acquaintances with those who have died as children or young adults, despite having lost so many in our lives – our mind separates their fate from our own as a disconnected occurrence. This sense of immortality corresponds greatly to that sense that ‘it will not happen to me.’
I have begun to wonder what it is that truly drives this false sense of immortality. Obviously, we are all aware of the reality that death happens to us all. It is unavoidable. Sure you could possibly delay it by over a hundred years but it will happen at some point. Awareness of reality then, would seem to contradict any sense of immortality, any feeling that death is not imminent.
The truth of our human situation, however; is far less than immortal. The human body is complex and delicate despite its sturdy appearance. Every nanosecond of every second, the cells in our body undergo thousands of chemical reactions. A disruption of even one of the thousands of these chemical reactions could result in instant death. Death can take the body in a matter of mere seconds. It can happen so quickly that there is no time for your brain to even comprehend what is happening.
The longer we live, the stronger our perhaps subconscious feeling of immortality grows. Unfortunately, the longer a person lives, the more likely they are to die. As you age, those nifty repair mechanisms that throughout your life have repaired incorrect or mutated DNA begin to slow down and make mistakes. Your body in general, all of your cells, begin to slow down and do less and less. It is in their nature to do so.
Despite all evidence to the contrary, some very loud part of my mind continues to broadcast a signal that says, “This is not for you. This will not kill you. This is not how you will die. This isn’t it.”
I have heard those sentiments ring out in my head during numerous accidents in which I was hit by another car. I have heard those same sentiments before each and every surgery I’ve ever had despite the difficulties. Every severe health condition I have endured – same broadcast. At times, this broadcast is unwelcome. Sometimes things hurt so badly that you wish they would kill you. You wish the end would come so you could cease feeling the pain. But then there is that voice in your head that says, “No, not today. You will live through this.”
I don’t know if anyone out there knows what I am talking about. I feel a little crazy mentioning it at all because surely no one else has this odd feeling of ‘immortality.’ Does anyone else endure very difficult or life threatening situations and not freak out because something in the back of your mind tells you, ‘this is not how you will die?’
Does anyone else get a little depressed upon hearing this reminder at times that whatever painful situation you are enduring – will not kill you?
Does anyone else out there have a feeling that they will know when it is their time to go? What I mean by this is the consistent feeling whenever something life endangering happens – you feel no fear because your mind tells you, this is not for you, this is not how you will die?’
Such a thought-provoking post! I wonder if that feeling is stronger in some people than in others? How else can you explain the certainty with which Nik Wallenda crossed the Grand Canyon? And I also wonder if that feeling is counterbalanced by a little voice that one day says, “Time’s up, buddy”?
I think I can offer some what of an answer. For those who attempt physics defying stunts over the grand canyon like Nik Wallenda. it is not a true belief in Immortality per say, it is more a case of a man/or woman daring to face the uncertaintinty. They knonw they are not immortal yet they choose to chance the odds and they feel the odds are in their favor.
Very thoughtful post. As I get closer to the age range when most people die, I do think more often about death. At first it was uncomfortable, but I’m working through it. You can’t avoid it, so find something to enjoy and revel in, every single day. Being alive and sentient is a wonderful gift!
Clearly there are many people who share your feelings – I think our service men and women have that feeling.
Your response makes me want to make a post about time of death then I would probably find that many who had anxiety issues about death and who feared it – were more likiely to die at younger ages. People who do not fear immediate death live longer and more fulflulling lives and they had no problems chancing happeiness.
Very impressive post!
The thing with mortality is easy:
Objectively viewed we are mortal,
Subjectively we are not…
Very ture – in ceratin veiws there is no immortality yet the energy making up your soul will contijue on whithout the physcial body forever.
That I am not sure, because objectively viewed no one can know because we are all mortal…
I think for those that believe the ‘soul’ continues on without the physical body that they believe the soul to be some form of energy. The problem then, as mortals, would be for us to create a way to measure whatever type of ‘energy’ this soul is made of
so very true!
I must admit I’ve been fortunate not to have anything too serious strike me. My knees have a tendency to ache when I squat, but that’s only a real bother if I’m catching for a baseball team or if I’m looking for stuff on the bottom shelf, and those are pretty rarefied circumstances. So, immortality is looking pretty good so far.
Good for you! Aches, sprains, cuts and frames all tag along with aging. No problems there, it doesn’t mean you still can’t feel immortal – can’t feel that you are going to die anytime soon.