I have always been intrigued by the concept of PHYSICAL immortality. It seems like it would be great to be able to live well into the future, beyond the lifespan of the average human being. The prospect of being able to witness the future firsthand is very exciting, and perhaps one day medical science will find a way to make that possible.
But although the idea of living forever might sound appealing, it has a definite downside as well. Having to experience the pain caused by the loss of those around you might just be unbearable. So unless everyone can live forever, the sadness and depression that results from witnessing the loss of friends and family might make PHYSICAL immortality quite undesirable.
Anyway, my interest in PHYSICAL immortality is academic, because at this point in time, it's simply not possible. There is, however, another type of immortality that is possible, which may be just as appealing. I am referring to IDENTITY immortality, the concept of being remembered forever.
Achieving IDENTITY immortality is easy if you happen to be famous. For example, everyone is familiar with Thomas Jefferson, author and signer of the Declaration of Independence. The same notoriety he enjoys is true about thousands of people who have had a positive (or negative) impact on society. But unless I discover the cure for cancer, or do something equally as monumental, I am afraid that it will be difficult for me to achieve IDENTITY immortality.
Sadly, the day of my death will be the first day that people begin to forget about me. As the years go by, I will be thought of less and less, until I finally fade completely out of existence. But that's OK, right? I mean, why should I care about that?
Well, the truth is I do care. I want my great-great grand kids to know who I was and what I was like. I want them to know about my personality and lifestyle, not just what they can read in my obituary. In other words, I want to achieve IDENTITY immortality, at least within my own family. So how do I do that?
The secret to achieving IDENTITY immortality is to create something that you can leave behind after you die, that has an excellent chance of being read by future family members. It should have the status of a cherished family heirloom, giving future family members a good reason to keep it safe, and to pass it down from one generation to the next. If you can create something like that, then you can die knowing you have achieved IDENTITY immortality. But what should it be?
Some might suggest that a written family history will help you achieve IDENTITY immortality, but somehow I doubt that. Unfortunately, most family histories I have seen are nothing more than significant dates and places, and don't really deal with the individual's personality and lifestyle. In other words, they are boring. Not only that, they can get lost or destroyed. In all fairness, there are some very thoughtful, well written family histories out there, but they are the exception, not the rule.