The Meaning Of Eternal Life

(Originally posted September 27, 2010) I’ve been thinking about something lately, it’s been worrying me. Perhaps you can help me out. I know Vampyres are mortal, we can die, we can be killed, we’re not supposed to live forever, be ageless etc, etc… but suppose – just suppose – some of us are? What if? What then? Now, before you accuse me of being delusional or even of role-playing, please hear me out. Let’s speak hypothetically.

Assume for a moment one of us were to stop aging, or to age much slower than the normal aging rate. Say for example I am 37 and still look 27. And when I am 47, I would still look 27. Or 57 and still pass for 27 and so on.

Sure, this would be really nice – but for a few things. Life would get really complicated. How? Well, think for a moment – we live in an increasingly security-conscious, digitally controlled world. Everything we do in life needs to be done while referring to an ID or social security number, without which, you cannot own property, own shares in businesses, vote, get a license to drive, get an education, open a credit account, have a bank account, pay taxes etc. In South Africa for example, you even have to verify your mobile phone account (even pay-as-you-go sim-cards) with a personal appearance at your service provider and a copy of your ID. And if you’re a law-abiding citizen who adheres to your number, you could still have a few problems heading your way.

You could avoid having a bank account to a certain degree, doing what they call “mattress banking”, yes – but not many businesses will hand over your salary in cash to you every month – they pay it into bank accounts. And what will happen to this arrangement once physical cash actually ceases to exist? The Mundane obsession with control and leaving an auditable paper-trail for every transaction will soon achieve that. We know it is coming, we’ve known it for decades now. But for now, you have a job, a bank account and the clock keeps on ticking, even if you are frozen in time. You’re okay, right?

What about retirement? It’s mandatory in most countries at around 55 or 65. Sure, I might still look 27, but my employer would pay me off at 65 and tell me to pack my things, possibly while scratching his head and asking odd questions. Seeing as I am now 65 and supposed to qualify for pension, I would also have some serious issues collecting the money as my ID book would show my picture at 27 (even if taken last week), my age at 65 – and I would rock up at the bank trying to draw my pension money looking like my own grand daughter. Yes, I can see that going off without a hitch.

Assuming that pension isn’t enough for me to live on comfortably forever, especially if I were still drawing it at 137 years (that might raise some eyebrows) and I haven’t enough amassed wealth or investments by then – I would need another job. Easy, you might think – but my ID number places me out of the employment bracket because I’m already at retirement age, no matter how I look, or my abilities. That then means working low-paying part-time jobs – were I to stick to my real ID document of course. And getting stopped by a cop doing routine traffic checks could lead to some serious problems and queries about my ID, possibly resulting in my detention for carrying a falsified ID.

And then let’s not forget about all that unwelcome attention coming from family, co-workers, friends, jealous former lovers, and anyone else that happens to notice that I’m not getting any older… assuming of course I have stayed in touch with them and continued living in the same area under the same name. And if I were honest, and open about not aging, and being “immortal”, I would draw a lot of unwelcome attention. I could get kidnapped by some big corporation (or some government agency) wanting to satisfy their curiosity about my puzzling longevity… and we know how that would end, don’t we? With me splayed open on a metal table in some lab, my insides floating in a jar.

So now we get to the interesting part of my hypothesis. To avoid this sort of attention and negative aspects to being so long-lived, I would have to move on to places where I would be unknown, anonymous. Moving on every 5, 10 or 15 years, not forming any long term relationships and keeping a low profile. Naturally I would need to assume another name and identity, complete with enough substantiating paperwork that would stand up to official scrutiny and allow me to have a drivers license, find employment and own property – and this would have to be changed every 15 years or so… Complicated but necessary… at least, if you want to live by the standards you’re accustomed to.

And I would have to find a way to keep my finger prints off the radar, and to transfer my assets between past identities and my current one – all making this increasingly unlikely hypothesis look very, verycomplicated – and very, very expensive.

In the old days before computers, it was far easier to find a real identity of someone who died, and to assume that identity – public records of infants who died shortly after birth etc, completely fictitious identities that weren’t threatened with immediate verification by bar-code or finger print scanners as they are now. Sixty years ago it was far easier to just move to another town and say your name was Francine Myles and nobody who didn’t know you by your old name would be able to say any different. Today it’s so difficult to do that, and getting harder every year. These days, a quick scan of a bar-code ID, or a fingerprint scan can drop you in the crap in no time at all. In fact, I think that the only people who could change their identities so completely today, are people in witness protection programs – and they do so with assistance of their governments.

Doing so without such collusion would require changing records on national databases, meaning specialized contacts, and lots of dollar-scented motivation. If there are immortals out there today, just trying to live a normal life must be a pure hell of a rootless existence, paperwork, false identities and covert dealings. Not a very attractive scenario, nor a very enticing way to spend eternal youth, is it?

Hmm. Suddenly eternal youth and immortality doesn’t seem quite so rosy anymore, does it?

Hypothetically speaking, what would be YOUR solution to this little problem? I’ll bet it would be a creative one.

Val

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