Memorial Day was originally a day to honor those who died defending our country. It has expanded to become a holiday welcoming summer and remembering all those who have passed from this life. Recently I have been pondering the wisdom in extending human life indefinitely.
There are real virtues to mortality. We feel the urge of time upon us and it makes us more productive. We strive to give our best knowing that we only have so many chances. We make room for the generations that follow so they too can bring beauty and comfort into the world.
For those who argue that human life is better without death, I would counter that life without death isn’t human or at least not much fun. Vampires never die but they don’t seem to be happy about. In fact, there isn’t any literature to suggest that immortals are happy (except the vague harp strumming immortality of Christian heaven which sounds pretty painful to me); the Greek gods were always fighting, Vampires are like parasites, even science fiction immortals live with a certain tragic sadness.
The power of life is in the living. Life needs an end, just as it needs a beginning. Finitude is good. Mortality makes life matter. To be mortal makes it possible to give one’s life to those who need it most; to the ones we love and the gifts we give. I will be happy to use up my body and give all I have away, sliding into home plate satisfied and exhausted.
With Grace and Grit, John