The Profundity of Two Words

17 Nov

We were having dinner when my stepdaughter, out of nowhere, said something that I thought of as profound and true. It was only two words, but it was something that I agreed with. We went on to discuss why she said it and delved deeper into the issue.

What were those two words?

Mortality sucks.

It has been said many different ways.

The only guarantees in life are death and taxes.

None of us are getting out of this alive.

Those are cute ways of saying that each of us will eventually face our demise. We are all different, but that similarity unites everyone. It is nature. It is how the world works. However, that does not mean we have to like it.

I am not one of those people who thinks about death. In fact, it hardly ever enters my mind. However, it is my job to talk about it. As a historian, I talk mostly about people who are no longer alive. From presidents to prostitutes, they are all part of the story, but they are also all part of the past. Their time has come and gone, and they have gone with it.

There are times when I think of the people I talk about and wonder what they would think about the world that has come after them. What would Thomas Jefferson think about the country that started with his Declaration of Independence?Thomas Jefferson

What would the woman who lived in Lebanon, Tennessee in 1842 think about her descendants? Did her family turn out like she hoped it would?

In my mind, that is one of the worst things about death. We miss out on all of the stuff that happens after. I want to see as much of the future as possible. I want to know what technologies will be invented.  I want to know who all the presidents will be. I want to know who is going to win all of the Super Bowls. However, it will be impossible because mortality exists, and mortality sucks.

There is something else about mortality that I find interesting. Our religions tell us that there is something better in the afterlife. It is a paradise where no troubles exist. This imperfect world will be replaced with a perfect one.

What is interesting about that? No matter how much we believe about the wonders of the afterlife, we fight like crazy not to get there. Exercise. Medicine. Healthy food. We have created all kinds of ways to prolong life in this imperfect world and not have to go to that perfect world.

I am not sure where this post is heading, but here are some things that I think.

I think Thomas Jefferson wanted to know what happened with this experiment that he and the other founders put into motion.

I think people of the past wondered what the future would look like.

I think we wonder the same thing.

I think we come up with ways to prolong life because we want to be part of the story for as long as possible.

I think the world of the future will be better than the world of the past.

I think mortality sucks.


14 Responses to “The Profundity of Two Words”

  1. Marilyn Armstrong November 17, 2014 at 03:18 #

    You’re right. Mortality sucks.

    • Rick November 17, 2014 at 03:22 #

      I thought it was the correct view.

  2. sittingpugs November 17, 2014 at 03:26 #

    Death is fine; it’s the dying part that can get a bit messy, drawn-out, smelly, unexpected, long over-due, or indecisive.

    • Marilyn Armstrong November 17, 2014 at 03:29 #

      One of my cardiologists in his odd attempt at humor said (remembering I just had 4 major cardiac surgeries and 2 additional less major procedures) — “There dying … and then there’s DYING.” Suggesting that I didn’t want to do the latter. Like I have some kind of choice.

      • Rick November 17, 2014 at 03:36 #

        Doctors should stay away from being comedians.

    • Rick November 17, 2014 at 03:29 #

      That’s true. I still want to know what happens after I’m gone.

      • sittingpugs November 17, 2014 at 03:41 #

        Whatever you want to happen.

        And then there’s that other question that Caitlin R. Kiernan so succinctly puts in her novel A Murder of Angels:

        “What if you’re wrong and we never get to find out? It’s kind of presumptuous, isn’t it, assuming

        that dead people know any more than we do.”

        “My, but we’re in an existential mood, today, aren’t we?”

        “It’s just something I was thinking about yesterday morning, that’s all. How terrible it would be to

        be dead, to be a ghost and know that you’re dead, and still not know if there’s a God.” (67).

  3. frontrangescribbles November 17, 2014 at 03:50 #

    Yep she’s correct it does suck.

    • Rick November 17, 2014 at 04:06 #

      That seems to be the majority opinion.

  4. Andrew Petcher November 17, 2014 at 07:27 #

    I agree with all of that. I read an interesting article recently about the human soul. The theory was that there is no after life as such except that a dead persons soul sticks around for a while because of all of the people he/she touched in mortal life. For example my dad has been dead for ten years but he still exists because I and many others still have memories of him and that is the essence of his soul. He doesn’t know that of course and he doesn’t know that Barrack Obama is President of the USA.

    • Rick November 17, 2014 at 18:13 #

      That is an interesting way to look at it. As long as there are people around to remember us, we will be alive. I like it.

  5. DyingNote November 19, 2014 at 05:26 #

    What’s to look forward to a ‘perfect’ afterlife? Infinite boredom is the evil puppet-master of perfection, no? I know I’m getting all dramatic but I’m coming out of listening to a few hours of listening to metal.

    • Rick November 19, 2014 at 14:19 #

      I would like to spare a few hours and listen to metal.

      • DyingNote November 19, 2014 at 14:38 #

        You can add an ‘n’ to that word 🙂

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