They’re out there, the immortals. They go to work, buy groceries, teach children. They cry, they scream, they fight, they mess up. But still, they are immortal. At least, that’s my take on it.
No, this isn’t about ghosts. No, it isn’t some weird, otherworldly phenomenon. This is going to be a shorter, guided reflection though. Buckle up!
I have this idea that some people are mortal to us and others are immortal. I’m not sure what qualifies them as being so. I’m not sure why they come across as unending but they do. And when they do die, it’s like a sledgehammer was taken to your ribcage because gods don’t die. Immortals don’t die. That’s their whole deal.
The secret is that they are not immortal to everyone. My hero is your enemy kind of thing. Maybe this is why they can die. Maybe this is why they do die.
My idea is hard to explain mainly because I’ve never tried. Look at the people in your life for a moment, all of them. Even the ones who have died. They’re all different to you. Even your parents. Odds are you’re closer to one, maybe really close. Now, deep down we know that everyone dies. No one can live forever. But with certain people, we don’t consider their death as a fact of life. We might not even consider at all. They might be 90 years old by now, but still, your head tells you their death isn’t anytime soon. Until it is.
Then what happens? We feel awful. Our world suddenly stops spinning. Down is up, up is down, and our whole compass is wrong. We can’t seem to move through our days anymore.
But this isn’t just grief, at least not in my eyes.
It’s something bigger, a tragedy didn’t because we couldn’t seem to see it coming. But why? If it’s a parent or someone older, they are supposed to die before their children and we know that they will. But when they do, especially if it’s suddenly…it feels wrong. Like they’re on a vacation they haven’t come back from yet. Thank you, shock.
This article isn’t to talk about how we feel after these immortals die. It’s about the concept of immortals, recognizing that they are there and they can die.
It’s about projecting our existential crisis onto other bodies other than our own. We sure can die, but so can anyone else. Our time here is limited.
Let’s start with this: look at your life and really look at it. Who are you close to? Is there a person who you just can’t fathom passing away at all or even any time soon? It extends beyond that. Is there a person who you cannot see even being injured, ill, or immobilized in some fashion? It might take some time or it might not take half a second, but once you have your immortal ask yourself this: why them? This might seem like a broad, silly question but it’s not always what it seems. Sometimes are immortals aren’t even people we act like we like. Sometimes it’s a mother who grates on our nerves and clashes with our ideologies. Sometimes it’s a best friend who is awful at staying in contact. We don’t pick our immortals.
But they are there for a reason. (We’ll get to it).
What traits in these immortals are coming to mind as you reflect on them? If not traits, what memories? When you think of them, what comes to mind? When you have a clear image of them or of a memory in your mind, pause. Look deeper. What is their expression? What are they wearing? What are they doing or where are they?
Going through the who, what, where, and how (how are they doing something, how do they look) leads us to the why. Why are recalling this image to mind?
This is the part of the reflection that’s all you but I’ll offer some suggestions as to why we might see a particular image in our minds. The bottom line of my idea is that these immortals give us a sense of stability through an extremely prominent characteristic and that characteristic is the thing we latch onto in our memories.
For example: A father meticulously waxing his car.
- Attention to detail
- Care for the things we own
For example: Mother exercising with a smile on her face.
- Finding joy in the hard things
For example: A teacher guides us with a stern face.
- Strong work ethic
And these are just quick examples, not coming from any place in reality. But hopefully, they get the gears in your brain turning. Why do you remember someone the way that you do?
Once you figure out why someone may seem immortal to you, it’s important to do two more things. Remember that they are immortal in your life because they have brought you stability. Something about their place in your life has brought you a consistent, constant personality and energy to you that gives you stability. This is why it’s common for these immortals to be parents (at least, I think so).
Accept and understand that they are people. They are not immortal. There isn’t godly blood in their veins. They are people and they will die. It doesn’t have to be tomorrow, but it doesn’t have to be fifty years from now either. Work slowly to face this fact and accept this. Then, begin to cherish the time you do have with them.