Emmie Mears
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To Drink Or Not To Drink: Eternal Life

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To Drink Or Not To Drink: Eternal Life

Fountain

Fountain (Photo credit: Creativity+ Timothy K Hamilton)

Drinking from the fountain above won’t make you live forever (it might just give you a dose of Montezuma’s revenge), but throughout history, there have been legends of wellsprings that give eternal life.

When I first heard about these fonts of everlasting youth, it had a magical quality to it. A sense of possibility and wonder, like the first time you see fiberglass insulation and think for a moment that everyone’s walls are filled with cotton candy (or candy floss, if that’s the term you’re used to).

In spite of the romanticism of living forever, there is a darker side to staying young throughout the ages.

The first tarnishing of the fountain of youth came for me in the form of my first favorite Bruce Willis movie: Death Becomes Her.

Cover of "Death Becomes Her"

Cover of Death Becomes Her

(Could there be a better cast for this? Nope. The answer is nope.)

Although it’s a comedy and I coveted Meryl Streep’s gorgeous sparkly pale blue gown, there was something horrifying about watching her and Goldie Hawn fall to literal bits, stuck alive forever.

In almost all mythologies, there is a price to eternal youth — or at the very least, a punishment for abusing it. The only example I can dredge from memory of a world in which living forever doesn’t become its own punishment is Twilight. (Though who knows what happens? Maybe Leah gets pissed she never got her happy ending and dedicates the rest of her life to making their eternal bliss shatter…)

I’ve thought about what it might be like to live forever. Or at least for several centuries. The changes you’d see, the history that would pass you by, the horrible fashions you’d wear. Dictators, plagues, revolutions, and the extraordinary advances of snack foods.

As a historian, part of me would be tempted for sheer curiosity. Another (more cynical) part of me punches the former part in the teeth and yells, “FUCK NO.”

If someone plunked a goblet of Font O’ Longevity in front of my face, would I drink it?

I’m going to go wishy-washy on this one and say maybe. First, I’d have a few questions.

mummy

mummy (Photo credit: bunchofpants)

First and most importantly, would I look like that after a few centuries, or would I retain a glowing youthfulness? Would I be able to blend into society, or would I look increasingly like Botox gone horribly wrong? Sure, it’s shallow. But I’ve seen The Mummy. I don’t fancy strolling around the future looking like Imhotep. No, thank you.

Alone

Alone (Photo credit: matley0)

Would I be the only one? Because if I’m supposed to wander about this planet for all eternity, it’d get awfully lonely without someone to chat to who understood the ramifications of watching centuries of people just flop out of existence while I chased an itch on my back.

I don’t reckon I’d want to stick around with only myself for company. Granted, there’d most likely be another seven billion or so people on the planet unless they went and blew each other up, but regardless, you need friends who can relate at least a little. There’s a big difference between “I’ve seen everything from the Inquisition to Auschwitz to Guantanamo” and “I really hate chem class.”

Thanksgiving 2010

“It’s a ritual sacrifice. With pie.” Thanksgiving 2010 (Photo credit: Perosha)

Would I be able to/have to eat? And if so, would I have to count calories forever? I’m going to assume that immortality would mean I just plain couldn’t die. It’d be nice to still enjoy the occasional burger or pineapple sherbet, but I wouldn’t want to spend eternity worrying about my waistline.

Especially when the quieter centuries wouldn’t leave much to do but eat.

English: A warded lock. Français : Une serrure...

English: A warded lock. Français : Une serrure à garnitures. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Would there be any kind of loophole? Say I stick around for ten thousand years or so. Humanity has gone and made itself extinct, and I’m left with only cockroaches for company. Would I really be stuck on an empty, probably wasteland-y planet FOREVER, or would there be some way for me to pull a Cartman and say, “Screw you guys, I’m going home?”

After all that, the quick answer is probably no. I’d most likely smack that goblet of everlasting life off the table and croak when it was my time. But if I’d stay young and beautiful with a few others (who didn’t suck) for company, I’d consider it. Bonus points if I could appreciate food without becoming the size of the planet itself after an eternity. Gold star if there’s a hot companion involved who likes me enough to want to live forever with me.

But.

The thing about living forever? There’s always a catch.

Unless you’re Bella and Edward.

Quick poll! Your turn to answer!

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Author | Emmie Comments | 6 Date | December 22, 2012

comments

Emma

Ha, I only watched Death Becomes Her a week or so ago. I woke in the middle of the night with terrible back pain and found this playing on TV. Yep, immortality not so great for Streep and Hawn. Seeing everyone around you die? Nope, don’t want to live forever.

December 22, 2012 | 9:44 am

Laird Sapir

Very thought provoking. I have questions, myself. Such as, will I only be able to come out at night? Because while tanning has never suited me, I stopped working graveyard shifts for a reason, and the whole thought of having to spend 12 hours a day or so in a comatose state in a light-proof box makes eternity seem a lot less appealing.

Also, and this may be off topic, but how is it that all of these immortal folks have so much money? What did they do to acquire it? Does being immortal come with a big bankroll? Because saving for retirement is hard enough. I’m not sure I could afford it if my retirement were to stretch, say, 7 or 8 hundred years. Just sayin.

December 22, 2012 | 11:43 am

Marlene Dotterer

Yeah, I’m all over the questions. I definitely want to live forever (or at least a few thousand years), but I have conditions. I’d want to stay physically around the age of 30. (Will I have to have periods forever? Probably yes, ’cause the hormones are important. Bummer).

I’d want to stay mentally sharp. It would be nice to have other people who also live that long, but I wouldn’t make it essential. As far as money goes, I think I’d be able to eventually make enough to stay comfortable. I don’t know if I have what it takes to get filthy rich, but I can’t imagine living forever and never working. I’d have a hundred different careers! It would be a blast.

December 22, 2012 | 1:28 pm

denelian

yeah. i’ve thought about this a lot

if i could magically become NOT DISABLED and not hurt and be in perfect health, i’d love to live a loooooooong time; centuries of time. but forever?

yeesh.

December 27, 2012 | 1:54 am

    Emmie Mears

    Forever’s a bit much, regardless of the perks. 😀

    December 27, 2012 | 3:26 pm

      denelian

      EXACTLY! at least, for those of us born mortal. it might be different, if we were born different, or raised different…
      i have part of a book i’m working on, still, where the basic plot revolves around a group of people who [accidentally] made themselves effectively immortal [can be killed, but won’t die. they don’t CHANGE at all, really. they are physically forever as they were when it happened] and the things they do to keep from going mad.
      hint: they do INSANE things to not got insane. na da? 😀

      December 28, 2012 | 9:24 pm

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