In a few weeks, I will travel to Ontario, Canada, for a conference. While I’m looking forward to the trip, I am anxious, as always, about traveling, especially traveling internationally. My fears usually revolve around losing my passport and not getting home–I can’t imagine the Canadian government wanting a wayward American, but that’s why fears are irrational–but also, the more common fears of not returning home at all. Through this struggle, through this grieving over my mother, I have thought, so very often, about my own demise and how it would affect those around me.
It’s morbid, I know, but what leads to morbidity more than grief? How else can you deal with the mortality of someone you love than by imagining your own mortality? For we are all mortal; there is no way around this.
In several of my novels, I write of characters who are 1) Psychically gifted, 2) Immortal, 3) Sensitive or in-tune with others. Good readers of people, as it were. I do this because I am none of those things. I am gullible; I am clueless; I am mortal. But in each of these scenarios, my characters hate these aspects of themselves. Immortality, I think, would be very troubling.
There are several books that discuss the problems of immortality, and two come to mind immediately: Altered Carbon by Richard Morgan, and The Picture of Dorian Gray, by Oscar Wilde. Both suggest that immortality, or at least, near-immortality, is a dangerous mental proposition. The longer we live, the more scattered we become.
Or, as my 94 year old neighbor once told me, “Amy, I’m tired. I’m just… tired.”