Friday, April 03, 2015

Collection of Moments

Steve responded to the first line of my 'Walk As One' post with the comment that he is counting on science to solve the ageing problem. The line was 'The only thing that is immortal is this moment'. Like Steve, I am quite excited about our progress in understanding the human body and the science of keeping us healthy, not just alive, for much longer. I have heard talk that if we can make it through the next couple of decades, we will live healthily to the age of 150. I think that is awesome.

'This moment' is different though. The point of the post was about the Unogwaja Challenge and John McInroy's decision to go on foot from Cape Town to the start of the Comrades. The point of that line was that clinging to immortality is amusing in a way, depending on how you define it. You can choose to define yourself. If you go through a process of figuring out who you are, it is normally a process of elimination. You realise you are 'Not this, Not that'. Not your hand, not your nose, not your toes. Not your race, not your province, not your country. Not your gender, not your sexuality, not your religion.

When we die, we may burn our ashes or bury our bodies. Those bodies are not us. Every 7 years or so, they are almost completely new. If you change your diet, and you are what you eat, 7 years can make you a whole different person. In 'Reason To Stay Alive', Matt Haig tells the tale of his depression. In it, he has conversations with his younger depressed self. These two individuals, while linked, are different people. So is Matt Haig either of them? Or neither of them? Or both of them?

None of us knows the answers to these questions. I also prefer questions that have practical answers or useful further questions. I like the idea of looking for a story that lets me bounce back at anything that life throws at me. We spend so much time trying to figure out who we are. I am trying to flip that on its head. I am trying to spend more time figuring out who I am not. By trying new things, you can slowly break down the things you can't do and get to the juice. The stuff that makes life awesome. Frankly, I think we are more interesting than me. We can do a lot of things. By relaxing a little about trying to figure out our mortal personal identity, we can get cracking on the things that matter more.

We are already immortal. And all we are is a collection of moments.

But yes, having bodies that lasted longer would rock.

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