Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Immortal, Ephemeral

I have wanted to be immortal most of my life. Stop for a moment and savor the irony in that statement. I don’t know where this fantasy began, whether it was Heinlein’s three thousand year old Lazarus Long, or Anne Rice’s vampire, Lestat. Maybe it was Rumiko Takahashi’s Mermaid Saga. Perhaps it began earlier than that, with the gods and demigods of a plethora of cultures whose tales I read as often as I could find a new book at the library. There are people who wish they could fly, people who wish they could turn invisible, there are those who wish they could read minds. I have always wished for immortality.

How curious then, that I am endlessly fascinated by the mortal, the ephemeral. I am eternally conscious of no matter what mark we make in the minds of men and on the land, in time it will fade. It will cease to exist. All evidence of that we ever crawled upon the face of the world will eventually be obliterated. Gaia herself is mortal.

The older I get, the less I care about the material; the less I appreciate gifts unless they facilitate my access to the things I do appreciate. A Kindle, for example, simply because I want the books I have purchased on it available everywhere. A library I can carry in my pocket. As much as I love books, I am not married to their physical form.

When people ask what I would like for a gift, I usually tell them to buy me wine. Unless I miraculously quit drinking, I will always need more. It is a great way to explore more vineyards as people purchase a wider variety than one might on one’s own. My sister’s gift to me last Christmas was one bottle of wine a month for a year. It continues to be the perfect gift.

The things I treasure: a full glass of wine in hand while I sit on the couch in front of a wood stove, fire raging against the iron of its cage, licking the transparency of the door; a Monday night rain storm pouring off the roof while I stand on the second story deck, the light from the house turning the streams of water into dancing beams of light; a good dance, a laugh and smile from my partner; that moment when she catches her breath, bites her lip as a thought crosses her mind and she is too caught up in the now of us to realize that she is as open a book as she will ever be. I love these things that do not last. I love the stories that have endings, and no matter how they are retold, are a little different every time.

I prefer the beauty of a rose to a diamond and the beauty of a woman to a rose. In the dark, a diamond is just another rock. In the dark, a rose is still soft, fragrant. In the dark, a woman is soft and hard, fragrant, alive with the in and out of her breath, palpable, yet beautiful to the senses. The joys of a woman are limitless, and still, each as ephemeral as the life of that rose, the ebb and flow of an ocean’s tide.

The world is full of things that come and go. Change is the only constant. The story begins, rises, climaxes, falls. We have our denouement and our epilogue. A new story begins. I am entranced by these tales, fascinated by my part in them, passionate about how each new narrative reshapes a piece of my own. Fact or fiction, rain storm or lover, new road or familiar path, I am constantly rewritten. I end and begin, day after day.
Today is a new beginning. Today is a reason for living.

Immortality seems to me an opportunity to live the ephemeral to its ultimate. To experience the constant change, the endless stories and combinations, forever. I would say yes, given the chance, knowing the world and its terrible, tragic nature, and its joy. Knowing how hard life sometimes, being diagnosed with chronic depression and having lived with it, knowing sometimes how much my mind tells me it would accept death readily (it took me years to not imagine my parents at my funeral), I would accept immortality. I would welcome the chance to learn everything about the world, to become the ultimate Renaissance Man. To learn every instrument, every language, read book after book after book. To watch, fascinated, as the world was born, lived, and died around me. To watch the rain fall, listen to it on the tin of the roof, share the fire and wine with a lover, to sail again and again into the sunset, forever.

It will, however, be rather inconvenient when the sun grows old, gets fat and consumes the planet if we don’t find a way to spread ourselves out among the stars.


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