Immortality. Humanity has been obsessed with the concept for as long as mortality has existed.
You think about it and ask about it. You are always thinking and asking.
‘Will I live forever if I outrun every predator and keep good health?’
It will work for a while. If you stop the dinosaur from eating you, you won’t die. If you spit out the poisonous berries in time, you won’t have a seizure. Then you discover age. Aging – wrinkles, grey hair, fatigue. Experience any one of those and you’re doomed.
‘Is there a way to prevent it?’
Oh, you really will try everything. Drinking liquid gold will only kill you faster, you stupid, stupid beings.
‘Jengu, Airmed, Sekhmet, Apollo, Hebe, Haoma, God, keep me young! Keep me healthy!’ you plead on your knees.
Your gods do not hear you. They do not care. They enjoy your devotion and they won’t get it anymore if none of you die.
So you move on. No one can live forever. There are many attempts and billions of failures. Why waste what precious time you have trying to gain more?
‘I cannot prevent the death of a person. But can I bring them back?’
Apparently you can! You stay just long enough to give everyone hope. And then you die again.
‘Is there life after death? There must be. This cannot be the end.’
Why? Why can’t it? You dream of palaces and paradise. You tell yourself that there’s “another side” because what you have on earth is not enough for you. Will you ever give up?
‘Immortality would be a curse,’ you decide. ‘Wouldn’t I eventually get bored and lose my mind?’
Maybe you would. Your minds are weak. They are not designed to withstand the weight of forever. Tell yourself whatever you want to hear. It won’t change anything.
You think what you think matters, but it doesn’t.
‘I can’t live forever, but can I live just a little bit longer?’
If that’s the closest you’ll come to acceptance… sure. Invent beeping machines. They track your heart, they don’t keep it beating. Sick tubes down your throat and make them pump air. They won’t replace your failing lungs. Swallow chemicals and inject yourself with needles of unnaturally coloured fluids. You cannot escape the fate that awaits you.
Do you want to know the secret to immortality? I’ll tell you. Come closer. Closer.
The secret is not to prevent death, but to be remembered. That’s what got the Olympic gods in the sky and Orion in the stars.
If you are easily forgotten, you’re not special. You’re mortal.
No matter how much gold you consume, prayers you say, A&E trips you take, you will not achieve immortality.
But don’t worry.
It’s not all it’s hyped up to be. It’s just… forever. And that’s as long as you’ll be searching for your “cure”.
Deborah Rose Green is Contributing Editor for Hey Young Writer! She is also the author of Dragon Pearls (2019) and Crown My Heart (2020). You can follow her on Instagram at @authordeborahrose or visit her website, deborahrosegreen.co.uk!