Some people achieve everlasting stupidity, others have everlasting stupidity thrust upon them!
By Heather Loney
Many people grapple with the theory that there is no afterlife, that human life is finite, and that you don’t live on after you kick it. One thing they struggle with is creating a sense of immortality for themselves. Lots of folks go the good old ‘offspring/mantelpiece’ route: have kids, raise them to have their own kids, and then take a photo of yourself to be placed on the mantelpieces of succeeding generations, so young children can ask, “Who is that?” Our life fulfillment is reached when someone responds “Oh, that is great grandma Heather. She lived x number of years, worked as a _____, and died alone.” My opinion of this option? Boooorrrr-ing. Oooh, how creative we are with our procreation. Why not try doing something that we haven’t been biologically designed to do? Jeez.
In the name of ingenuity, here are some less-traditional options for achieving immortality in a finite world. You could try the “no one will ever forget this” route. In other words, before you die, do something really, really stupid. Case in point: I have a second uncle who died nearly 20 years ago, but my family still talks about him at family reunions. His memory is continually evoked in parental warnings: “Remember uncle Frank’s cat and the toaster? Do you want that to be you? No. You don’t. So quit it.”
You would think it would be better for everyone to just do something so great that no one will ever forget it, but I find that stupidity sticks on the brain longer. I’m related to someone really important, like Banting or Best. For the life of me, I can’t remember which one, or how I’m related, or exactly why they were so great. But I remember Uncle Frank. And his cat, for that matter.
It all depends how you want to be remembered. If you’re hoping for “positive remembrance,” then try to avoid carrying anything around with you that you don’t want people to know about or that could be construed as negative postmortem.
I make a point of never carrying cigarettes in my purse. Picture it: I’m toting around some cigarettes, and bam, I get hit by a car. When my parents arrive at the scene, the police officer in charge gives them my belongings. They mournfully look though my things and to their shock see a pack of cigarettes. Now for the rest of their lives, I will be the daughter who smoked. And lied. And lied about smoking.1 This is not a good scenario.
So, there are a few options. First, I could fashion a hidden pocket on the inside of my purse that discreetly hides a single cigarette. But that would wreck the lining, so it’s not a good option. Second, I could just quit smoking. Or! I could attach a note to every pack of cigarettes that says, “so-and-so’s cigarettes.” And when I die, and my parents are going through my belongings, they’ll see the note and think, “Wow! What a good daughter, always carrying things around for her friends.” But then at the funeral they may run into so-and-so, tearfully hand him the pack and say, “Here, so-and-so, Heather would have wanted you to have these back.” And so-and-so, not being as quick on his feet as I would have preferred replies, “But I don’t smoke!” and a collective gasp is heard throughout the funeral home. This is not a good option either because I would again be the daughter who smoked. And lied. And elaborately lied about smoking. So, you see my point; just stop carrying around cigarettes in your purse. If your afterlife exists only in the minds of the people still living, it’s best not to piss them off.
1 Dear Mum [sic] and Dad. I don’t actually smoke. This was just an example I was giving for people who do smoke. Don’t worry!