There is No Forever, Ever.
In a recent article by Kris Gage she writes:
Why are we all so hung up on “forever?” Why does “forever” mean more to us, happy or otherwise, than “happy for as long as it lasts” might mean?
While her piece had more to do with relationships, it got me thinking.
Yesterday, during a Broncos game, I learned that superb athlete Andrew Luck called it quits.
No forever for Colts fans. And boy, where they pissed.
If you and I march to the altar and make all manner of promises to our loves about how “you’ll never cry another tear,” boy, are they gonna be pissed.
When you move to a new town, like my buddy Theresa did to Gig Harbor, and found Paradise, boy are you gonna be pissed when the neighbors sell out and a developer clear cuts all the trees that made your spot a Paradise.
If your team wins the Super Bowl, you want that title to last forever. Well, it does, until next year. Then you likely lose, unless you’re the Patriots, but that’s another story altogether. You’re gonna be pissed when players leave and your team tumbles to barely make the playoffs.
There is no forever.
Our inability to handle change, and our deep, unhealthy attachments to How Things Are Today can make life miserable.
Whether it’s folks who cannot stand how diversity is changing the world, how every country is becoming a melting pot, how global climate change is killing much of what we treasure, we get terribly pissed.
For folks who dread having to share their precious sandbox with folks not like them, who hate their aging bodies, whose late-night DUI cost a family their lives, we get terribly pissed.
At some level, this is proof positive of how life’s shifting sands make us crazy.
That’s one reason why the extremes of the religious right are so tempting. Black and White, good and bad.
That is ever so much easier. I’m good. You’re bad. End of story. AMEN.
There is implicit safety in absolutes. It’s a lie.
Learning to navigate the billions of shades of grey which make up our daily lives is another whole ball game.
One of the other great, abiding and evil lies of religion is that after you die, then, if you’ve been “good” (as in, by this religion’s standards) then you get X forever.
A bunch of virgins, sit on a cloud, whatever.
None of us has a single fucking clue that this is true.
This is just one more bit of fearful, wishful thinking that once we leave this mortal plane, then everything after this is easy. Peachy keen. Streets paved with gold, which, frankly, is meaningless, since I seriously doubt the existence of the Existential National Bank (no ATM FEES FOR THE FIRST EON!!!).
Whatever reward might be in the Great Beyond, my guess is, since life in whatever form is constantly changing and evolving, so will we. Whatever we turn into after we shake off the skins we’re in. Saggy as mine may be (and eventually, good riddance).
During the New Age movement I was introduced to a group of folks who had decided they weren’t going to age. I wonder how that worked out for them, now that it’s thirty years hence. Given that time has a very bad habit, at least in this dimension, of marching forward whether we like it or not, chances are they’re either dead or definitely advanced. My guess is that they might have preferred their forever as younger, healthier folks, not with cranky knees, a bad back and dentures.
Just imagine the kind of fear drives people to want to hang out here for all eternity.
Forever is the dumbass Disney promise that all will be well, forever and ever amen. It’s a nice conceit. The only thing that is forever in my life is that I will forever be ignorant. With hope, not stupid, but ignorant. Because there will always and forever be vastly more than I could possibly experience, know, understand.
That guarantees that as long as I’m here I will forever be learning. That, I can guarantee myself.
There are moments that we most certainly want to have embedded in amber. The day he asked you to marry him. The day you gave birth to your first child. The day you won the Big Race. The day you stood for the first time after cancer surgery of your hip.
Those moments fill us with glory.
We love ourselves in all our uniqueness, our limits, our possibilities. It is no wonder why we want to hold onto those forevers. How wondrous it would be to float in that fantastic place…forever.
That would rob us blind.
The necklace of near-perfect moments, such as being crowned Homecoming King, being the first in your family to graduate from college, the day you finally set foot in Borneo, which you promised yourself for decades, are just that: the high points by which we remember touchpoints of a life well-lived.
All those moments in between, riddled with hard work, sweat, loss, tears, accidents, pain, study and the rest of what life has to offer are what make those brilliant moments possible.
Before I stood at the summit of Mt. Kenya last November, I put in endless hours of stairs. Afterwards, I had labral and hammie tears in both legs which sidelined me.
Before I headed to Canada for weeks in the wilderness, I trained for hours in the gym and on horses. Afterwards, I had foot injuries which again sidelined me for weeks.
There were moments in Canada that I would have preferred never end.
Yet they are forever. Forever burned in my consciousness, the sight of some of the most beautiful scenery on earth, mostly enjoyed without a camera. Made far more magnificent by the hard, slogging work and pain I paid to get there.
Got me right square in the feels.
That’s what true forever feels like.
No matter what life does to me, somewhere those memories exist.
In our all-out dash to do, do, do, we lose sight of what happens in the here and now. These moments constitute our forevers.
I will forever be that girl on the mountain top.
I will forever be that girl running a half-wild Arab stallion at sunset in Egypt.
I will forever be that girl kayaking the Arctic seas on Iceland.
The great Holocaust survivor Victor Frankl, wrote:
“Man can preserve a vestige of spiritual freedom, of independence of mind, even in such terrible conditions of psychic and physical stress.”
At such times we need our forever moments. They are proof positive that life is good, that we are competent, that we are capable of great things and supreme joy.
If all I had were forever moments, being human, I’d get bored. That’s why they’re rare, rarified, and rapturous.
A few forever moments make life worthwhile.
Just, not all the time.