In Anne Rice’s Interview With the Vampire, Louis, the self-loathing vampire narrator states: “What does it mean to die when you can live until the end of the world?” He hauntingly echoes the same nihilistic voice of the omniscient Dragon in John Gardner’s Grendel who eventually tells Grendel that all life is pointless so he might as well just “find a pile of gold and sit on it.”
Our 85 (or so) years of life is an infancy against infinity. The great irony of humanity is that our very delicacy, mortality, impermanence is a gift. The problem is most of us never understand it that way. We spend our lives trying to immortalize ourselves – wishing we could live forever, cursing away our beautiful wrinkles, the candles on our birthday cakes when we should be treasuring our time. Immortality is the curse – Louis sees it, the Dragon sees it; when you can see it all, there is no point, but when you see a distinct ending, suddenly everything gains meaning.
It’s easy to fall into a wave of sadness and loneliness, allowing the tides of responsibility and tedium to bombard your existence. Who doesn’t want to throw their cares to the wind and walk away from it all sometimes? In the end, it’s all meaningless, the Dragon would say. In 100 years no one will remember your anger, your disappointment over an injustice you face; in a thousand years, the hundred will become even more meaningless.
The value comes in understanding the little moments. Appreciating art, laughing with your children, having your pets greet you at the door, dinner with your family, wine with your friends, morning coffee with your co-workers, these little moments are what create a life. We are finite, we are mortal, we are limited, and this is the absolute value.
If we only have 85 years, then every year is precious and every moment matters. Our sadness, our injustices, all of it matters because in ten years we are wiser, stronger and we can pass on our understanding. We can love and forgive because we understand that there will be an end. When it feels like everything is pointless, and we all feel that way at some time, is the exact moment we need to pull ourselves up by the bootstraps and realize we (quite literally) do not have enough time to be apathetic. Be angry, scream, yell, cry, yes – love, lounge, fawn, pander even, but never apathy.
Life is simply too short to waste a moment. The world is too wrapped up in scandal and sensationalism they forgot the value in stopping to smell the roses, in stopping to scents the moment.