I recently saw the film The Age of Adaline. It is yet another contrived tale of youth, beauty, love, and immortality. Beautiful people. Beautiful outfits Beautiful scenes. Beautifully quiet.
Here’s how the story goes:
A beautiful (of course), 29-year old mother (Blake Lively) is “gifted” with immortality after a strange car accident involving a meteor (don’t ask), her heart stopping, her being struck by lightning, and then her heart restarting.
While she may be young, beautiful, and very well dressed, she can never really live and love and be happy, because “change” doesn’t come easy to her. She lives the next eight decades pretty much to herself, moving every 10 years or so to avoid discovery.
In other words, immortality is, for her, a living death. After eight long decades of youth, beauty, and immortality, Adaline is not having a good time.
Only one person — her aging daughter — is privy to her deepest secret. And she has managed to keep one long-term female friendship with a blind woman who cannot see her secret. And then she meets Ellis (Michiel Huisman).
And four days later, Adaline comes to a crossroad in her life. Will she finally trust someone enough to share her secret with them and, in effect, choose “life?”
Oops, was I snoring?! I’m sorry, but I told you it was unbelievably boring, except for the icky reveal (I still love you, Harrison Ford).
Still, the movie did get me thinking and asking myself: “Janine, if given the choice, would you actually choose immortality?”
Here’s the thing.
Death, the infinite darkness of the unknown, is fearsome. And the process of aging, equally so.
From the first moment we embrace the light, we are all careening on a well-trodden path to old age, suffering along the way, and inevitably death.
If we are honest with ourselves, most of us would have to admit that we are terrified, a little or a lot, at the prospect of our own expiration. I am.
But if given the choice, would I, would you, choose to be forever here?
Forever young. Forever beautiful.
As seductive as that all sounds, I think before anyone can answer that question with any intelligence, they should first ask themselves another: “Do you have the capacity and the desire to love?”
You see, I think everyone could enjoy the perks of immortality — in the short-term. That is, before the losses pile up, it might be grand fun. But only a psychopath or a narcissist has any real possibility of enjoying it long-term.
Well, since these personality types care about no one but themselves, other people are interchangeable to them. It is this defining characteristic, their inability to love, that makes them the most likely of us to truly enjoy the “gift” of immortality.
For them, an eternity of “Next” would probably be
But if you, on the other hand, have the capacity and the desire to love other specific people, life would eventually become absurd, hopeless, and bitter.
Think about how agonizing it is to lose loved ones in one lifetime, never mind many! Or, maybe worse of all, to always have to stand emotionally on the outskirts of love and life, never able to fully submit, to fall, to engage.
This price alone would be too costly for most of us to pay. And to her credit, it became so for Adaline.
The truth is, for most of us to enjoy living forever, we would need to have the power to invite everyone we love to take the journey with us.
Then, there is also the issue of how intolerably bored most of us feel on a quiet Sunday afternoon with no distractions, nothing to do, and no one to see.
So with that said, my final answer is a fearful no.
Call to action: In the comment section below, answer this question: “Do you want to live forever?”