What would you do if eternity was given to you?
A good thing about living alone is that intrusive thoughts such as this come naturally. You could be reading a book, cooking dinner, or watching a K-drama about a 999-year-old fox who has a year left to become a human, and getting one would seem normal.
The theme of the drama was simple: “Eternity is suffering.” Living that long makes one indifferent to everything around them. The loneliness that plagues as years pass by; the emptiness that swarms in from time to time—all these are but repetitions of what eternity is. Rarely does a romance drama make you question your mortality, but what’s to expect with the year we’ve been having so far.
In retrospect, the premise was ironic because it contrasts with what we believed when we were children. When I was young, an eternity meant an abundance of everything; the wealth of time that gave you limitless opportunities to do everything you ever wanted. Imagine the memories you’ll make, books you’ll read, and achievements you’ll reach because you have the advantage of having an infinite clock inside you.
Fast forward to the present and that line of thinking is now nothing short of naive. It’s now a time where the Little Prince ideals have grown up and the elephant in the snake has turned into the hat wiser people see. It’s like turning 20 suddenly removes the rose-colored glasses you had all your life. Instead of rejoicing at the idea of living forever, you focus more on the idea of living in perpetual suffering with seemingly no escape. And for good reason. The world wasn’t always going to be that colorful.
Even so, a part of me wanted to go back to that thinking—the one that was flowery, simple, and childlike. To have the mind that lets you look at eternity and say, “Man, that sounds fun!” Who would not want to live a life without worry? I want to look at the world and first think about how beautiful sunsets are painted, not how disappointing another lonely morning feels. It is human nature to be in awe of something beautiful, but it can be hard to focus on that beauty when the ugly things are the ones magnified.
But a part of me also understood where the so-called “grown-ups” were coming from. I forget that the good things that come with immortality also come with an abundance of bad things I have to painstakingly juggle. Living for eternity meant dealing with eternal occasional sadness, abandonment, and loneliness that even money nor time can’t alleviate. You would be dealing with the same anguish you’d be dealing with now, but instead, you would be dealing with it for eternity.
That’s why sometimes, I understand why the universe that governs us decided that our life had a deadline. Humans are special that way. We’re not like the celestial bodies that burn for millions of years. We’re flashes in the grander scheme of things—meant to shine only for a short while. We are beings that would treat immortality more as a curse rather than a gift from the gods above. Yet, maybe we were given such a short time for us to realize that it is all the time we need.
One does not need a thousand years to appreciate how beautiful early mornings are nor an eternity to cherish the high-pitched sound of a dog’s yawn. We always had rose-colored lenses all our lives, circumstances just led us to take them off. The world was still beautiful when we took them off and it will continue to be.
I would love to live forever, and so would you—but life is only interesting because there is a conclusion. The drive to find meaning or to live without having one falls upon our shoulders and ours alone. It is that terrifying yet comforting awareness of an end that pushes humanity to keep moving. Sure, there is the fear of uncertainty, death, and everything in between, but really, what does eternity offer aside from extending one’s stay?