Last week around the gaming table the subject of immortality came up. Along with it came that old trope of countless vampire stories and tales of other soul-weary immortals— if you could really choose to be immortal, would you?
The DM and I immediately began nodding our heads yes, but another of the players wasn’t so sure. He felt that the world might become a pretty dull place after a few centuries. For my part I told him that if I go and see a movie in the theatre I’ve already forgotten most of it by the time it comes out on DVD, so I didn’t think that would be a problem. Besides, to continue in this parallel, it’s not like the world is going to suddenly stop making movies just because you’re still around. The world will never quit being an interesting place as long as you’re interested in it, no matter how many centuries old you get.
So what would it be like? What would you do? You’d probably want to stay on the right side of the law. Ten consecutive life sentences takes on a whole new meaning when dying in prison isn’t an option. As for marriage, I think I would always want to be with other people. If Anne Rice has taught me anything, (showing I do believe anything is possible) it’s that immortals need to keep vibrant people around them to keep them rooted to the present. I would want to be with my spouses (spice?) until they died of old age, Highlander style. Anything Christopher Lambert can do, I can certainly do better.
Taking the long view, I think it must certainly be extraordinarily easy for an immortal to become fabulously wealthy. Comics, baseball cards, beanie babies— just think of all the collectibles you could squirrel away for later sale. Imagine how high your eBay rating could be after a thousand years! Everyone knows that immortals have to change their identities every so often, so they don’t end up getting locked away for study in some government lab for all eternity. You’d have to be extra careful about getting photographed though. Some intrepid reporter/FBI agent/geeky band of misfit kids is always nosing through microfiche records at the library trying to trip immortals up by going through hundred-year-old newspapers. Little shits.
(Isn’t it interesting that there is never any question that if you did get something really cool like immortality, the government would want to lock you away? It’s like— jeeze, can’t you just be happy for a guy?)
If there was something you wanted to be really good at, you would have the time to learn how. Even if you didn’t have any natural talent towards say, playing the piano, after a hundred years of goofing around with it, who would know?
You could call really old people “kid.” You’d always get senior discount rates even though you looked thirty-five. You could drink and smoke as much as you wanted because poisons don’t affect you. No matter how much of a bastard anyone was to you you’d have the satisfaction of knowing you were going to outlive them. You could sock away all manner of modern production machinery in your hidden bunker miles beneath the surface of the earth and when the inevitable war came, bombing humanity back into the stone age, you would be set to take over the world and recreate civilization in your image.
Okay, that last one sounded a bit super-villain-ey, but still— you could.
All I’m sayin’ is, I don’t think there would be any less to occupy my attention if I were a thousand than there is at thirty-nine. I am perpetually delighted by my life, and I don’t see my age having that much to do with it. Besides, if I get really bored, I can always hop down to the Blockbuster and rent a new release. I already forgot how it ended anyway.