I spend a lot of time driving down dark roads in the middle of the night. On warm nights, I can roll the windows down and feel the breeze blow in the otherwise still night air. It is during these times that I find myself lost in thought. My little red hatchback carries me both down the physical and metaphysical roads before me. Tonight’s headlights illuminated something that has been silently growing in the damp shadows of my brain like a patch of mushrooms.
I guess I think about mortality quite a bit. Mine, others’, the general concept…all of it comes to my attention on seemingly a daily basis. Tonight, it has been all of those. I realized that I am immortal. We all are. At least until we are not. Every day, we get in our cars and drive around, arguably the most dangerous thing we do habitually. Yet, somehow, we are okay with this. People get in horrific car accidents every day. But here we go, driving at speeds much faster than we realize, surrounded by other humans (arguably the most dangerous species on the planet.)
Despite every creeping danger, we usually arrive at our destinations in relative safety. Somehow.
One of these times, I will not survive. One of these days, my immortality will run out, and I will reach my only true mortal moment. And…I’m mostly okay with that. Sometimes, I need to comfort myself with thoughts of some beautiful afterlife. Sometimes, I look fondly on the day I will no longer have to feel the aches and pains, emotional ups and downs, financial and social insecurity. Mostly, though, I just distract myself with all the things around me. I narrow my focus so finely that I don’t have to bother with mortality or the meaning of life, BECAUSE HOW CAN I, WHEN SOME PERSON I DON’T CARE ABOUT SAYS SOMETHING THAT MILDLY IRRITATES ME FOR A FINITE PERIOD OF TIME?!
But then it returns. The understanding that my whole life is just a breakneck hurtle towards that solitary mortal moment. Be it accidental, natural, or ninja assassination (not gonna lie, kinda hoping for that last one), I will get there. There is nothing I can do to slow it down or stave it off. Sure, I can take better care of myself, drive safely, and try not to anger large men named “Brutus,” but really, when my moment comes, my Achilles heel will be dangerously, irrevocably exposed. And I shall…pass on.
It is that knowledge that gives my life some spark of meaning. I am no one special. The world was just fine before me, and it will carry on as if I had never existed when I have left. In these waning days, though, I can do something no one else ever will: I can be me, here, in this very second. This moment is something no one will ever be able to replicate. The unique variables and slight changes between me and the next guy just like me are what make me who I am.
I have the unique opportunity to impact the lives of the people around me today. I can interact with a very select group of people, a subset of humanity that is uniquely individual to my experience. No one has ever, nor will ever, be dealt the same deck of cards as I have. There is inspiration in that thought. There is life in that. Something that breaks up the monotony and spreads some color into the shades of grey that cloud up everyday living.
It’s a shame that we fall into that mode so easily. Monotony, that is. Each second that passes is one that does not come back. It is the unstoppable march of time and the frailty and limited longevity of existence that gives life such succulent flavor.
I don’t really know what any of that means. I was honestly hoping that by the time I had thought things out to this point that I would have some profound, uplifting message to relay, some life-changing turn of phrase. But alas, I do not. Perhaps I overestimate my ability to think beyond myself. Maybe all the people in all those cars I drove past today have already had these thoughts. Perhaps I’m late to the party. I might actually prefer that. Knowing that everyone out there has come to terms with what a jumbled, beautiful mess this life is might set my heart at ease.
Truly, it is peace that I seek along this path, and it is peace that subtly eludes me. Not entirely, however; as I fumble around blindfolded, it give me a whisper or a peck on the cheek to remind me that it is still there, unattained and available.
I don’t know what I have to say. I guess if you find yourself kept up at night by conflicting thoughts, you are not alone. If you want to find something concrete to pin your value, your hopes, and your passions onto, there are others like you.
If you just want to be at peace, and you hope that everyone else can find some semblance of lasting peace, yeah, me too.
Maybe the peace is in the passage.
Even if it’s not, I would rather live my immortal moments on a fruitless search for peace, meaning, and significance than realize in my dying seconds that I had wasted my immortality.