Thursday, March 9, 2023

The Tunnel of Life

Life is like a tunnel.  Is there light at the end of it?  Or just a solid wall?

I had sort of a fever dream last night.  I was driving through a tunnel, a tunnel that was life.  At the opening, it was ten lanes wide and there was no other traffic.  I could steer this way and that - the possibilities were endless.

But as I drove along, the tunnel got narrower.  I had fewer options and had to steer more carefully, lest I plow into the wall of the tunnel.

Eventually, the tunnel came down to one lane - and even that got narrower and narrower.  Where would this tunnel end - at a blank wall I would hit at 70 MPH?  Or would there be "light at the end of the tunnel?"

Either way, the tunnel would end, one way or another.  I suppose if you are religious, you might believe there is light at the end of the tunnel.  "Walk toward the light!" they say.  And you end up in heaven and live forever and ever amen.  But I illustrated before that "living forever" in some sort of heavenly afterlife would be problematic.  Our minds cannot fathom infinity, and I suppose to primitive peoples, the promise of "eternal life" seemed to them like 100 years or so.

As I noted in that earlier posting, if you have all eternity, you will eventually meet every person who ever lived, learn every language, learn to play every instrument, read (and write) every book, do every possible thing - eternity is forever. You would, in fact, become a God yourself.  And as I understand it, that is sort of what Mormons believe - that you turn into Jesus and "get your own planet" to lord over.  Hopefully it isn't Pluto or something like that.

Some religions teach that you are reincarnated - which sounds almost worse than living forever.  You come back with no memory of your past lives (unless you are Shirley MacLaine) and are doomed to repeat life over and over again, in different forms.  Sounds like a form of hell to me.  Then again, so does living forever.

But getting back to our tunnel, I guess the reason I dreamt this, was a feeling that the world is indeed closing in on me. I mean, not dramatically, but as you get older, your options do become more and more limited.  And no, I don't want to read about some guy who became a concert pianist at age 70 or something.  Save that heartwarming shit for the evening news on a slow day.  The reality of life is that you have a lot of options when you are younger - not infinite options, of course, but options nevertheless.  As you get older, it becomes harder to change your life, change careers, change spouses, or whatever.  Not impossible, just harder.

And eventually, your body (and mind) start to falter and your options become very, very limited. If you've landed somewhere comfortable you can be quite happy about that. If not, it is much harder to change at that point.  That's why I am sad when I read some posting by a 20-something who declares, "I'll  never be able to afford to retire, so I might as well spend all my money treating myself now!"   It isn't that they can't afford to retire, just that they'd rather have fun now and impress people with status than plan for the future.  They'll hit the tunnel wall pretty quickly.

Maybe it was a stupid dream.  I have been sleeping weirdly since taking this Paxlovid.  But I think regardless of whether you believe there is a light at the end of the tunnel or not, it is undisputed that the tunnel comes to a finite end at some point, and you have to think about what you choose to do traversing the tunnel, rather than worry about the afterlife or simply face-planting into a wall out of spite.