Coming to terms with our mortality is extremely difficult. For many of us, it will be one of the toughest things we will ever personally accomplish in our lives. As human beings, we are in a troublesome spot in our evolutionary timeline. We still retain our primordial instincts of consistency, predictability, and, most importantly, the will to survive. However, in addition to instinct, our intelligence is advanced enough to recognize that we possess mortality, but does not grant us the necessary tools to prolong this mortality into immortality. This mix of raw survival instinct with the knowledge of inevitable failure to carry out this instinct will often induce a incapacitating feeling of terror, the revelation that all will cease to exist at one point or another. Wouldn’t it be better if we all just lived forever? Heck no.
Imagine, if you will, a world in which every human is granted unwavering immortality: a virtual utopia. Eventually, wars will die out because people cannot die, the great thinkers will carry on forwarding civilization with the fruits of their minds, and grief will never be felt again… Correct? No. Humans are much too animalistic, selfish, and stupid to ever properly use the gift of immortality proactively and ethically. Wars and conflict not only won’t cease to exist, but they will potentially exist forever. The great thinkers are human too, and will realize that an infinite amount of time at one’s disposal grants an infinite amount of possibility to do anything other than helping relatively less intelligent people get along. Divorce among the immortal will become rampant, population will increase exponentially and indefinitely, and the procrastinating student will now not only wait a day late to do his paper, but will wait for a technical eternity to explain the theme of Frankenstein in two pages or more… and failure? Why bother feeling guilt about living in your parent’s basement when you can simply take the universe’s sweet time to get yourself out of there?
We, as humans, typically carry out actions to either advance ourselves, others, or the species as a whole, but why do we carry out these actions sooner rather than later? Our mortality. The limited window of time that our mortality allows is fundamentally what drives each and every one of us to do everything we do, every second of every day for the rest of our lives. Why did you brew coffee this morning? Because you needed a boost at work. Why did you need a boost at work? Because you needed a boost to carry out your work properly. Why do you need to do your work properly? Because you need a job that provides income sufficient enough to survive. Why survive at all? Because you are going to die someday, and you’d rather die knowing you did something for yourself, others, or the species as a whole. I hope I die someday, because I know that if I don’t, I’d have an urge to turn in my Frankstein paper an eternity late.