Once an immortal decided to call it quits. When so many mortals counted on the promise of eternal bliss in paradise after they died, the immortal’s weighing of the reverse might seem baffling. The death option certainly didn’t appeal to other immortals, who were none too pleased to be told their entire reason for existing might have less to recommend it than they thought. It was—or so this bothersome malcontent in their midst claimed—devoid of any recognition that existence might offer something other than endless repetitions of the known and a tedious search for time-killing diversions to lessen the ennui of living forever. What was the attraction to such arid monotony, the renegade immortal wanted to know. Where was the thirst anymore for an experience that suddenly upended everything you’d come to assume about yourself and replaced it with a fresh start offered by the unpredictable? Even the fleeting lives of mortals looked attractive by comparison to a divine existence that had about as much thrill left to it as the prospect of flossing one’s teeth in the mirror forever. At least there were alluring possibilities still in what mortals faced. Nothing was ever finished, no matter how “complete” or “perfect” they naively declared it to be. Their blindness to the value of the unfinished over the completed and of imperfection over perfection was what made so many humans endearing. Constantly flogging themselves to accomplish “something for the ages” and then flogging themselves again with worries they might not succeed—how these mere mortals stirred one’s sympathies! Masterpieces, legacies, a name to remember, honor, conquest, trophies and prizes and records of all sorts, fortune and fame regardless of how these were won, position and privilege and all—humans strove so hard for so little, such trifles in the end, that the immortal couldn’t help but be touched by their habitual myopia. When right there before them were spread more reasons to marvel than they ever dreamed of: all the taints, scars, lapses, and defects that made their lives the constant gamble they were. Full of uncertain promise and vulnerability, no wonder mortals were so fascinating in ways no immortal could claim to be. For who among those excused from ever having to come to terms with their own death could understand the doomed hope to which humans clung more fiercely with each day they neared their ultimate defeat? In the end, this tragic hope had a nobility that outweighed everything else and should leave even gods in hushed awe.
Copyright © 2020 by Geoffrey Grosshans