The inevitability of mortality


I realized, around the age of seven, that I was going to die someday. I spent some awful sleepless nights around that time. I assured myself that, by the time I was an adult, I’d have figured out a way around it.

Well, I’m fifty-five years old, and I still haven’t figured out a damned thing.

What a pity that we have to die. What? You don’t like me mentioning it? I know. I don’t like thinking about it.

But I think it bears thinking about.

Here are some important philosophers on the topic of the inevitability of death:

From “Through The Looking Glass,” by Lewis Carroll:

`Crawling at your feet,’ said the Gnat (Alice drew her feet back in some alarm), `you may observe a Bread-and-Butterfly. Its wings are thin slices of Bread-and-butter, its body is a crust, and its head is a lump of sugar.’ 

 

 

`And what does it live on?’ 

 

 

`Weak tea with cream in it.’ 

 

 

A new difficulty came into Alice’s head. `Supposing it couldn’t find any?’ she suggested. 

 

 

`Then it would die, of course.’ 

 

 

`But that must happen very often,’ Alice remarked thoughtfully. 

 

 

`It always happens,’ said the Gnat. 

Then there’s Bart Simpson: “You gotta get murdered someday.”

But here’s my very favorite, which actually comforts me a little, taken from Ogden Nash’s “Carnival of the Animals”:

At midnight in the museum hall,
The fossils gathered for a ball.
There were no drums or saxophones,
But just the clatter of their bones,
A rolling, rattling carefree circus,
Of mammoth polkas and mazurkas.
Pterodactyls and brontosauruses
Sang ghostly prehistoric choruses.
Amid the mastodonic wassail
I caught the eye of one small fossil.
“Cheer up, sad world,” he said, and winked.
“It’s kind of fun to be extinct.”

I certainly hope so. I expect to be extinct for a very long time.


 

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About Loren Williams
Gay, partnered, living in Providence, working at a local university. Loves: books, movies, TV. Comments and recriminations can be sent to futureworld@cox.net.

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