The Heaviness of Immortality
Death is a fascinating and inescapable fact of life. Regardless of your religion or upbringing, everyone reaches a certain age where we start to ask complicated questions: When will I die? What does it feel like to die? What happens after we die?
My freshman year of college was the first time I remember facing depression. I felt lost and alone at times, but music always got me through these challenging emotions (as it does for so many). At one point, I came across a song by of Montreal called “The Repudiated Immortals” and fell in love with it — though at first I didn’t understand why. The catchy bass line and subtle beat warranted many repeat listens, but it was something else about the lyrics that stuck with me:
There’s no escaping,
So I won’t try.
It’s just the heaviness that comes with
Knowing you will never die.
While listening to this song over the years, I often thought about the idea of living forever and how it would take away from everything that makes life meaningful. Imagine if someone told you: “As of today, you’re never going to die.” Would you be comfortable with that? What would give you purpose? How would you age? How would you find meaning?
We’ve always glorified the idea of immortality in movies and pop culture, but it’s a terrifying notion. Your life would become an endless loop. When you take away death, there is no meaning. Life’s purpose comes from the ephemeral nature of life itself. Our precious moments are precious because they’re finite. The only reason that we’re able to appreciate the beauty around us and live each day with passion and enthusiasm stems from the fact that we’re mortal. Without warning, we could lose anyone in our lives in an instant. This is why we feel the way we do when we’re holding a loved one in our arms. Love wouldn’t exist so deeply without the threat that we could lose it.
The ego, meanwhile, treats death as a fearful concept because it signifies the end of the identity that we’ve created for ourselves. A persona that lives within our mind, but not our soul. As Ram Dass has written, the soul is eternal because it exists beyond the physical self. The soul allows us to find stillness and transcend the narrative that mortality is tragic.
Simply put: we shouldn’t fear death. We should respect it, understand it and live with it by our side. Otherwise, we will lose our ability to appreciate what’s in front of us. Here and now. A moment to cherish. A moment we’ll never get back.
And that’s what makes it so beautiful.