An Almost Immortal Man

She came to him in his dream one night; slipped in through a crack in the window,

and slithered up his nose. She approached him in his dream, and said she had the power to grant him a very special gift–the gift of immortality. But there was a catch, she said. The catch was that there was only one way that he could possibly die, and that was if he took his own life. It was uniquely his life, she said; his to own completely, and it would only end when he wanted it to. He agreed to accept the gift, and when he woke up, he felt the same, and figured that it was just a dream. But days passed, then years, and then decades; yet the man didn’t change, not aging a day, and never dying. He never got sick, and some days he missed it. At first he went about his life as usual: going to work, paying taxes, eating food, etc, etc. Then when he realized that none of it really mattered in the long run, he set himself free to do whatever he wanted. He quit his job and took to the woods, but soon got bored of the woods and went back to the city. The money that he saved up went by quickly, this was when he started to steal. Just little things here and there. But naturally, it escalated. Eventually he got caught and spent time in jail. This pattern repeated for centuries. He’d live a life of pleasure and crime, get put in jail, get out, and do it all over again. Sometimes he’d change his identity and move to a new country. But just like everything else, eventually, it got old. He fell in love a few times, but when one woman he loved died, he knew he'd never be able to love someone like that ever again. So he stopped trying to find love and just lived. He saw wars fought for silly reasons, and people’s morals change with the weather. It was either a slow and agonizing change, or an emotional overreaction to a tragedy; and the herds morals would change in an instant. He observed and studied the human race; he couldn’t help it, he didn’t have a choice, he was constantly adapting to fit into the new norms. He thought to himself that the idea of human progress was insane. Things just repeated themselves, over and over again; just in slightly different ways. We were constantly victims of our own egos–believing we knew more than we did. He watched buildings fall and ice caps melt. Life moved on. We constantly adapted, it's what we are good at. He thought about it a few times–suicide, but he never went through with it. He clung to the idea that there still was potential to do something new: to have a new feeling, or taste something he had never tasted before, or see something he had never seen. He walked this world alone, knowing that every connection he would make would lead to heartbreak. She never visited him in his dreams again, but he prayed to her, and every other God, that he could have someone to experience this immortality curse with. Nothing ever answered him back. Our almost immortal man turned to art next; the study and creation of it. Out of all the ways of living he tried, this one was his favorite. He learned how to play the guitar: how to paint, how to write and how to fight. Days filled with martial arts, music and sunsets sustained him for a while. But still, the lingering question, ‘How long can a man live for without killing himself?’, chewed on his brain like a parasite. He knew he couldn’t live forever; he didn’t want to. Someone asked him once, what makes life meaningful? His response was, ‘Death. Death is what makes life meaningful.’ One day, as he crossed a bridge, he saw a woman jump. Without thinking, he dove in after her, and saved her. When they got to shore, she started to cry hysterically and punch him in the shoulder. ‘Why?!!’ She screamed at him.’Why?!’ He stared at her, confused, and responded, ‘I don’t know… I don’t know.’ Three days later, the woman knocked on his door. Once again, she asked him, ‘Why?’

He said, ‘I went there to jump too, but in the moment, saving you seemed more important than killing myself. I’ve been torturing myself trying to understand it since then, but still, I don’t know why I feel that way, but I still do. Saving you was more important than killing myself. I don’t regret it.’ She slapped him across the face and slammed his door on her way out.

This is where I must stop this account of the almost immortal man, because the man still lives. His story is still being written. Here, in the present, he continues to find meaning. A few years ago, when I interviewed the man, I asked him what was still keeping him here. He responded with, ‘For art and for other people.’


I hope he continues to choose life...


-C.H.


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