One of my favourite fairytales since childhood has always been that of Aladdin and his magic lamp. To be more specific, however, it was the concept of the three boons that intrigued me. After years of fantasizing(and attaining a bit of maturity), I’d already decided on what boon I’d have asked for in place of the arab street urchin.
Somewhere along the line, I started taking interest in the wishes those around me might want to make. So, I asked around. What surprised me, was the number of people who instantly opted for the same wish, the evil Vizier of the tales had lusted after: Eternal Life.
Here is what puzzles me to no ends: Why would so many people want something that, to me, seems like a very severe punishment? Is it the propaganda? If we look around, will find religious, mythical and folk-tales abound with references to the glories of eternal life, be it in this plane or the one after ascension.
Christian texts promise eternal existance to the virtuous: by god’s side, among his ministrels. Muslim scripts pronounce something similar. Hinduism takes a different look, with promises of fading into eternity/ nothingness once the cycle of life has purged the soul pure( Yet, we find gods and demons warring for the right to drink amrit, the elexir of eternal life), Egyptians have reference to the Philosophher’s stone.
And yet, what the stories all conveniently forget to mention is: what to do with all the time once eternal life has been attained? What we all miserably fail to grasp is the enormity of the concept:’Eternity’. I like to think of it this way: If we take every grain of sand on every beach of the world to represent a billion years, ‘eternity’ hasn’t even begun.
I might as well quote Marvin the paranoid android from Douglas Adams’ “Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” at this point: “The first ten million years were the worst. And the second ten million years, they were the worst too. The third ten million years, I didn’t enjoy at all. After that, I went into a sort of a decline.”
Looking down upon the world with nothing to look forward to for all eternity: not a fate I’d look forward to. So even if i was somehow offered eternal life, I believe my reply would be: Thanks, but no thanks.