In a sociological survey, fifty people, over the age of 95, were asked one question: If you had your lives to live over, what would you do differently? What a profound question for all of us to answer. I suspect that the answers change from time to time. These old people had a multitude of answers, but there were three that surfaced time and time again. They said, "If we had our lives to live over, we would reflect more, risk more, and do more things that would live on after we were dead." And it is this last one where I want to focus today.
These elderly people found that immortality was of critical essence. They were not speaking about the immortality that extended their physical lives; no, they knew such was not their destiny. They wanted the immortality of affecting this world, lingering on the pallet like a bold Cabernet Sauvignon. Are we, who are younger than 95, any different than these elderly people?
This thing called immortality is critical to our survival as a race, as a species. I used to wonder, (I'm ashamed to say), into my mid to late 20s why people start projects that they may never see realized. Why fund or invest into something that may take 50 or 100 years to mature? And I am not just speaking of finances. I'm talking about it all: money, time, energy. What is the point? I think these old people were on to something. We are all fading fast, a moment's breath in Life's nostril.
Look at my picture. I am adorable, strange; youth hangs in my eyes, though I am passing my youth. I am still young and energetic, willing to love again and again. But see me 10 years, 25 years from now, will I have the same grace? I most certainly doubt it! But will I see myself any differently than that boy in the picture who is 30-something or the boy who was 8 speeding up and down the street on a Huffy bicycle. I think about this all the time. I think that's why I've fallen in love so many times.
I have friends who have never been in love, or perhaps in love only once . . . Me? I fall in love frequently. The intensity varies, but each time there is a refuge I seek. I seek to make an impact, to be remembered. In short, I want to live forever. Immortality!!! My love has grown. Lately, I fall in love far less than usual, but that is another story . . .
I used to tell my former wife that I want thousands of people at my funeral, giving testimony to my life, the good and bad. I would tell Tessin (stupid me) that I wanted all the women who I loved to be devastated by my departure. These women would be more because of my presence in their lives, and slightly less because of my absence. I seek this realization far less these days. I am content with those I have already; I am content with one.
Sometimes while I'm driving, the thought of someone who died a year ago, ten years ago, hundreds of years ago, will cross my mind. I will wonder, if they ever thought that someone, when they were long gone, would remember them on some uneventful day, while driving through Autumn leaves.
And our heroes die in motel rooms and motorcades
Oh it seems like all our dreams are only fantasies
And I wonder if we'll learn from the mistakes we've made."
Randy Stonehill, 'Through the Glass Darkly'