The Gift of Immortality by Paul Kieniewicz

So, you want to be immortal? Or at least to live longer than 80 years without becoming decrepit or having to contend with deteriorating conditions we normally call, “getting old”. Yes, the arthritis, heart troubles, what we call degenerative diseases. Not to mention dementia. If those dont eventually get us, theres always cancer.

Speaking as a person from Erda, here to find out if Earthlings are interested in long life, Ill make you an offer. Youll live three hundred years, give or take a few. Your body wont deteriorate or fall victim to “growing old”. After three hundred years of Earth life, you will still look about forty. You mind will be sharp, capable of higher math or whatever. But I dont guarantee you will still hold to whatever political views you hold today. Are you ready to take my offer?

I can already see a few of you rushing forward to volunteer. But before you decide, its only fair that I provide full disclosure. People have toyed with the idea of immortality for thousands of years. Hollywood, who gave us “Highlander”, paints a glowing picture of endless years. However Anne Rice who wrote of various vampires, and Gothic writers took a view, that endless years might not be all theyre cracked up to be. “The Wandering Jew”, that medieval figure who, according to legend once laughed at Jesus, was condemned to wander until the second coming. His wanderings look more like punishment than a blessing. Each day he prays for death.

Two hundred years added to your present life will involve two hundred more years of daily vicissitudes. Todays wars and conflicts may be over, but dont count on it. Youll live to experience the effects of global warming. Youll have a larger family than you can imagine. Youll also live to see your friends and loved ones die. They may not care for the prospect of a long life.

How about your life relationships? Do you want to stay married to your spouse for more than two hundred years? I doubt that I would, no matter how perfect she might be. You could decide remain single. How many breakups and tons of angst are you ready to feel for three hundred years? You work it out.

Like the endless jokes involving St. Peter, a life of sitting on a cloud and contemplating the Almighty doesnt sound as interesting as the fun the devils have down below. But how do they handle the inevitable boredom? How many times in three hundred years can you listen to Madonna or Beethoven? How many new sexual positions can you come up with, so that the act doesnt get boring? Its all very well to plan to retire at age fifty-five, and live on the proceeds of an endless bull market for the remaining two hundred and fifty years. But its a heck of a long time to spend on the porch swing. All right, I see you have a long list of things youve always wanted to do, places to travel to and so on. Youd like to be an actress, composer, politician, scientist, world traveler, or whatever. But all I promised you was the same body you have now. No new talents. If youre tone deaf today youd better learn to live with it. Youre going to have a long life.

Im not trying to talk you out of immortality. But if you decide to take it, you need to know what youre getting into. Many people who took my offer ended up committing suicide between ages ninety and a hundred and twenty. The few who stuck it out for three hundred years — certain strong individuals.

Without exception, the long lifers were incapable of being bored. They didn t have a lot of different hobbies, and most of them didnt travel a lot. In fact, they didnt create the impression of being very busy. They rarely showed any suffering, but felt everything they encountered very intensely. You never knew what to expect from them, what they were thinking or what they were going to say. You had to be careful before asking one out to a party. Yesterday, they quoted Rush Limbaugh, and today they might talk like leftist liberals. Its not that they dont know their minds, but they refuse to get stuck in any rut. Don t try getting a commitment out of one. Many were environmentalists, but only because they were going to live with the consequences of environmental change and pollution. There were few successful politicians.

The aging of the body is only one part of growing old. I can solve the problem of physical immortality, or perhaps future Earthling science will. The aging of the mind is another matter. Not the brain — I promised you that the brain would not age, but I never said anything about the mind. The most heartbreaking aspect of aging is, not how the body grows old and feeble, but how the mind becomes inflexible, unable to break established patterns and travel in new directions. The aging mind refuses to listen or to see the world outside of its own established patterns. Were talking about views, opinions, memories and emotions that we accumulate and are unable to unload. At an early age, we figure out the answers to lifes questions, and adopt the “Ive found it” attitude. The questioning stops, and we switch into a defensive mode to control any threat to our established views.

Even in Earth science, the greatest breakthroughs come from younger minds that are less conditioned by knowledge, and less trusting in what they know. Few mathematicians older than twenty-five, have made breakthrough discoveries. Physicists do their best work by the age of thirty-five.

Theres nothing wrong with being conservative and holding to a particular worldview. But if you want to live three hundred years, you need a mind that is never going to age. That means altogether removing the time element from the mind – not a trivial task. Time enters into everything we do: our hopes, ambitions, memories, beliefs, hurts, views, opinions and learnings. They are all accumulations that are a result of time. We see those as defining who we are. We latch onto them, protect them from change, and treat them as our most prized possessions.

How many times have you heard an older person say,

“My opinions are good enough for as long as Ive got to live.”

“I wont live long enough to see that issue come to pass.”

Not a problem, as long as life doesnt last too long. But what if it does? Are you ready to change your opinions and values, qualities wrought by time that you now identify with?

Many people who enthusiastically took my offer committed suicide. They complained of intense boredom: that everything had been done or discovered, that there was nothing worthwhile left to do in life, or that they had figured out long ago that life was a bitch. Others were dealing with lengthy resentments, and old war stories or might-have-beens.

Unfortunately, I dont have a recipe or technique to remove what time has already done to your mind, and what it will continue to do over the next hundred years. Any technique can just as easily become a boring routine that will end up contributing to your time sickness. But the fact that some people did succeed in erasing the effects of time and living for three hundred years, proves that it can be done. You might ask them what they did, but I doubt their answer will help you.

One piece of advice to those who are serious about my offer, is to think seriously about what you are about to undertake. Look at the endless years ahead of you and the possibility of seeing lifes unending changes. If this awakens in you a feeling of awe, a sense of the greatest adventure, to the point that you would be willing to jump in, and let the swirling whirlpool extinguish everything you know, you may be good material for immortality. With the endless years will come continuous change. After only a hundred years you ll scarcely recognize yourself. A Christian today, you may end up an atheist or a Buddhist.

Any takers? Dont all rush.

For more information on Immortality related topics, visit the Erda website at

http://www.PlanetErda.com

Paul Kieniewicz holds Masters Degrees in Astronomy and in Geophysics. A renaissance man, he has lectured on astronomy, comparative religions, mythology and history. When not prospecting for oil and gas, he writes science fiction, plays with a recorder ensemble, carves in wood, and studies the properties of numbers. He speaks several languages and has traveled the world. He has published short stories in small press magazines. His debut novel, “Immortality Machine” is now available at Amazon.com.

Copyright© 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002 Paul Kieniewicz, sffworld.com. All rights reserved. No part of this may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the author.

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