I’ve always found it kind of funny when someone is said to be immortal. I think that word has different meanings for different people.
When I think of immortal, I think of some superhero that has been around for hundreds of years, or some sort of wizened old wizard, like Gandolf, who is old, but never ages. Or a sci-fi creature that can shape shift its way through time and space. Whatever is and whatever will be, will be.
When I think of immortal, I don’t think of an actor, or a writer, or a painter, or a sculptor, or anyone in the arts. I don’t think of scientists, or doctors, or politicians, or even the guy that narrates the Art Van commercials. I think those type of people can be memorable, and possibly even historic, (well, not the Art Van guy), but not immortal. Human beings die, and when they die they cease to be. To sort of quote Monty Python from the famous dead parrot sketch, they become ex-humans.
As an itinerant writer of auto-biographical non-fiction, (wow, hyphens anyone?), sometimes I think I write this stuff to be immortal, to be remembered, so my wife and kids have something to hold on to. And really, that’s not a bad thing. I hope my friends and family can look back at some of these blogs and laugh and cry and remember me when they read them. That makes me feel good.
But does it make me immortal? I don’t think so. Maybe I think that way because I’m a pretty practical person. I once watched an episode of Dr. Who where Vincent Van Gogh visits an art museum in the present time, and he weeps in joy about how his paintings are revered and are considered priceless works of art. Except, as we know, his art isn’t priceless. It’s worth millions of dollars. Which got me thinking, which is always dangerous.
If I were Van Gogh, I would be angry. “Sunflowers sold for how much?! I couldn’t get a cup of gruel, I was sick, poverty stricken, alone, and obviously depressed, and you’re telling me that my one painting of 12 sunflowers in a vase would make me wealthier than the king?!! What the hell? Where were you people in 1890?”
Van Gogh might be memorable and historic, but my guess is he would have given that up for a nice two bedroom walk up, a great cheeseburger, some friends to smell the tulips with and some Zoloft.
Which brings up the question. Is it better to be memorable and dead or unmemorable and alive?
I vote for unmemorable and alive, because living in this world is really the priceless thing. Life is the immortal work of art. Living and loving is worth more than any painting, and having loving friends and family is greater than the most magnificent fresco painted on the ceiling of any Sistine chapel.
I am not immortal. I never will be. But I am loved, and that to me is what is truly priceless in this world.
Thanks for reading.