I suffer from song-induced insomnia. Basically what happens is that a song will so ingrain itself into the very core of my being, that my basic cognitive skills become significantly impaired. Ever try going to sleep with Eduard Khil "trololo"-ing his way across the landscape of your mind? It's a battle you can't win. "Trololo" probably cost me two months' worth of sleep, and who knows what amount of damage Rebecca Black's "Friday" inflicted on my wellbeing.
Lately it's been Carly Rae Jepsen's "Call Me Maybe" keeping me up at night. You know how your brain will latch onto what it perceives to be the catchiest moment of a song and then torture you with it by repeating it over and over again? Well, a couple nights ago I was staring at the ceiling of my bedroom grinding my teeth as a deluge of "Hey, I just met you/and this is crazy/Hey, I just met you/and this is crazy/Hey, I just met you/and this is crazy" threatened to drown my sense of personal identity. At that moment, I wished that I actually liked the song, as if liking it would transform the experience of infinite mental replay into a joyous one. But then I thought, even if "Call Me Maybe" was my favorite song ever, and even if I believed that I would never tire of it, there would eventually come a point where I could no longer tolerate it.
Then I started thinking about death.
Here's the thing, every experience we have has a time limit of tolerability. Colloquially, we may say things such as, "Oh, I could watch The Big Bang Theory forever," but think about what this would mean in a literal sense. Seriously, imagine yourself watching The Big Bang Theory forever and consider whether or not this is something you would actually want to do. Not a very appealing prospect, is it?
All experiences in life are cheapened when prolonged indefinitely or repeated ad nauseum. Fortunately for us, there are a seemingly infinite number of experiences to be had during one's lifetime, thus we live under the impression that we can add to and enrich ourselves should we be so inclined to do so. However, this perceived plurality of experiences is predicated on the fact that life will eventually end.
A lot of people spend their entire lives searching for a theistic or technological path to immortality, but it doesn't seem like anybody really thinks about what it would mean to achieve it. Ok, *poof* you're immortal. Now what? What exactly are you going to do with eternity? Now, you may fantasize about all the things you would accomplish if time were no longer an issue, but what motivation would you have to do anything?
When I was in school, I remember scrambling to finish a final essay for one of my classes the day before it was due. That evening I received an email from my professor saying that he was extending the due date to the next week. Did I actually take advantage of all that extra time? Well of course not! Fast-forward a week, and there I was, typing madly at my computer the day before the essay was due... again.
Death, in a manner of speaking, is the ultimate due date. Death is what motivates us to live. Without it, what reason do we have to better ourselves, and the world around us? In a reality in which all are immortal, I could just imagine everyone saying in unison, "I'll do it tomorrow."
But let's say you're not one of those "eternal procrastinator" types. You're a type-A go-getter who's going to use eternity to learn everything there is to know and experience everything there is to experience. Well, that'll certainly keep you busy for a while. But inevitably for you there will be no more mysteries or secrets save for one -- what it would be like to not exist. Imagine how frustrating and maddening that would be! The one thing you don't know is the one thing you can never know. To make matters worse, even if you were actually able to die (perhaps by Highlander-style decapitation), you could not technically experience nonexistence, for you would no longer exist. Sure, you could experience the dying process, but beyond that...
So there you have it. What Carly Rae Jepson teaches us, albeit in an extremely indirect and stretch of the imagination kind of way, is that immortality will either cause us to become eternally lazy or eternally frustrated and pissed off. Yes, it would be nice to have a little more time on this planet, but we do ourselves a disservice by occupying our time pining over wishes and whims, for the ultimate due date approaches rapidly.
Ah Carly, before you came into my life I missed you so bad.
For more by David A. Schwartz, click here.
For more on the spirit, click here.
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