Wants to Live Forever: Can I live forever?
Animist: That is a really long time.
Wants to Live Forever: Yep. I have lots to do.
Animist: I mean, a REALLY long time.
Wants to Live Forever: I have LOTS to do.
Animist: Alright, technically, you can’t live forever since you would have had to start at the beginning of time. I am assuming you are not an ancient being born with the universe, watching the creation and destruction of stars and galaxies for untold millennia, to finally end up here at this coffee shop asking me questions?
Wants to Live Forever: Maybe.
Wants to Live Forever: OK, no. I was born in 1972 in Broad Slab.
Animist: So the best you could do now is to never die.
Wants to Live Forever: That sounds good.
Wants to Live Forever: What do you mean?
Animist: Why would you want to live on when everyone and everything you know is gone? The sun has burned out; the entire universe is just a cold, dark soup of still matter. And you, living on, surrounded by nothing.
Wants to Live Forever: Yea, that sounds kinda depressing.
Animist: So, not forever, then. How long? How long is long enough?
Wants to Live Forever: Really long. How about a million years?
Animist: You are asking me?
Wants to Live Forever: No. A million years. I want to live a million years.
Animist: And how will that work? Will you just keep aging, or will you stay unchanged, or will you age until you would have died, then start over young again?
Wants to Live Forever: If I just keep aging for a million years… [shudder] No, that wouldn’t be good. Unchanged might work, but it would be hard to hide. I guess going through the normal cycle over and over would be the most practical.
Animist: Each time you start over, do you want to remember the time before?
Wants to Live Forever: Of course. What is the good of starting over if you can’t remember? If I can’t remember, it is not really me, is it?
Animist: So towards the end of your million years, you want to be a child with memories of 10,000 previous lifetimes? What is that going to be like? Almost a million years old, but waiting another 21 years before you can drink alcohol again? Going through puberty 10,000 times. Will you have different parents each time.
Wants to Live Forever: OK, this is getting silly. That’s not at all what I want. I just want to live longer.
Animist: Longer than what? And again, why?
Wants to Live Forever: Longer than, I don’t know… Longer than I would have lived. And because I don’t want to die.
Animist: Back to the same questions as before… How much longer? And why don’t you want to die.
Wants to Live Forever: I don’t know, just longer, until I’m ready. And I guess I am afraid.
Wants to Live Forever: What happens next? Is it just oblivion?
Animist: Maybe. Maybe it is something wonderful, or terrible, or just incomprehensible.
Wants to Live Forever: Not helping.
Animist: How about a story. When I was a child, I hated taking baths. My parents would have to go through massive trauma every night to make me stop playing with my toys and get in the bath tub. Once I was finally in the tub, though, I never wanted to get out. Playing with the suds and my plastic boats, fingers pruned up and the water getting cold, it was just as hard to get me out of the tub as it was to get me in. What I really hated was change. As a child, living mostly in the moment, no matter what I was doing, I wanted to just keep doing it, forever.
Wants to Live Forever: So, death is like a bath?
Animist: Yes, death, like every stage of life, is ultimately just a change, and we all simultaneously hate and love change. We fear the unknown and try to put off change as long as we can, but we get bored and suffer if we actually succeed.
Wants to Live Forever: So, I should look forward to death since it will be just as much fun as life?
Animist: No. You should stop worrying about death and just enjoy life (playing with your toys) right now. Whatever death is, you will find out soon enough, no matter what you do now.
Wants to Live Forever: So, living forever is not a good idea?
Animist: Not the way we are made. Not the way our world works.
Wants to Live Forever: Oh. So, you wanna play scrabble?
Animist: I thought you’d never ask.