The Immortality Suit
By Matthew Joyce
There once was a scientist who was obsessed with immortality. Ever since he heard of the Fountain of Youth as a boy he knew that his life quest would be to extend human life for as long as possible—forever if he could.
So dedicated was he to this goal that he devoted his every waking moment to the study of medicine, genetics, astronautics and all manner of science. Eventually as he drew close to his ultimate goal he was granted a research position on a space station orbiting Earth where zero gravity made new experiments possible.
The scientist had been orbiting the Earth for some time when his experiments hit a snag. He tried everything he could to make them work, but they could go no further until the space station was resupplied from Earth.
When he learned that resupply would not happen for weeks, the scientist conducted thought experiments instead. But delay after delay held up the resupply. The space station had plenty of food and water so he was in no danger, but his experiments had reached a frustrating dead end.
Finally in desperation the scientist resorted to new and untried tactic. He prayed for help. “Please help me to finish my work so I can invent a way to live forever,” he prayed.
Much to his surprise his prayer was answered and an angel appeared to him on the space station.
“I have heard your prayer,” said the angel, “and I’ll grant you what you seek.”
The scientist just stared. He didn’t know what to say.
“If you want to live forever, all you need to do is climb into your spacesuit. I’ll permanently seal you in and you’ll be immortal,” explained the angel.
“All this time I’ve been working on experiments and you’re telling me that all I need to do is wear my spacesuit?” said the scientist.
“That’s correct,” replied the angel. “But once I seal you in. You’ll be locked into it forever. There will be no going back, no taking it off.”
“I can’t ever take it off?”
“Not even when you return to Earth. It’s the price of immortality,” said the angel.
“How will I eat or drink or go to the bathroom?”
“You won’t need to. You’ll be immortal.”
“I had not considered that,” said the scientist. “It’s not what I thought.”
“I’ll let you think about it,” said the angel. “Give me your answer when I return tomorrow.”
With that the angel disappeared.
Once the shock of talking to the angel wore off, the scientist began to ponder the angel’s offer. Here was the answer to his prayers. Here was what he had been seeking all these years. No more sickness, or pain, or fear of death. Here was the answer to humanity’s quest for immortality.
Yet it wasn’t what he expected. How was he supposed to function trapped inside the space suit? The scientist pondered his choice for hours as the blue and white sphere of the Earth rotated amidst a sea of stars outside his window.
As promised, the angel returned the next day.
“Have you made your choice?” asked the angel.
“It’s a more difficult choice than I thought,” said the scientist. “It’s what I’ve sought all my life. In fact, in a way it’s better because if I wear the suit I can wander around in outer space too. But the suit is bulky and awkward, and if I put it on I’d be cut off from so much. No more eating or drinking. No more smelling things. No more touching people. I’d be cut off from so much in life. Life would be right in front of me but I’d be limited in how I could interact with it. It would be a remarkable loss of immediacy and intimacy. That’s a higher price than I thought it would be.”
“That’s right,” replied the angel.
“Somehow I thought it would be different,” said the scientist. “I thought I’d be inventing a pill that people could swallow.”
“Actually, it is a pill,” replied the angel, magically producing one in his hand.
The scientist was shocked. “Then why did you tell me I’d be wearing the space suit?”
“Because I wanted you to recognize the truth of what your physical body actually is. You needed to make an informed choice,” said the angel.
“When you are born you put on a space suit called the physical body,” said the angel. “It lets you operate in three-dimensional space and time. Your body makes possible a wide variety of experiences you could otherwise not have. Yet in your physical form you are also cut off from much your greater spiritual nature.
“Death is a way for you to take off your body suit when you no longer need it. Death allows you to return to your true form and to interact with All-That-Is on a more intimate level,” said the angel. “The immortality that you seek would make that impossible.”
“I’d never thought of it that way,” said the scientist.
“Many people fear death,” said the angel. “Few work as hard as you to keep it at bay. Your quest for immortality has been important to you, but now it is time for you let go and release your fear of death and remember that you are already immortal.
“Life is not the opposite of death” the angel continued. “It’s a transition between states in a much larger scheme than you’ve previously imagined. Enjoy life in every moment. Prolong your rendezvous with death if you wish. But don’t fear dropping your three dimensional space suit and returning home when you are done.”
The angel placed the pill in the scientist’s hand “It’s yours if you’d like to swallow it,” said the angel. “I just wanted you to make an informed choice.”
The scientist stared at the pill. It represented the fulfillment of his quest. But was it the boon to humanity he had supposed? Now he was not so sure.
“Is that the body suit you want to wear in immortality?” asked the angel.
The scientist looked up at the angel and back down at the pill. Then he was silent for some time. “I don’t know,” he finally said. “Forever is a very long time.”
The angel smiled. “Immortality is a lot longer than that.”
If you enjoyed this story then you might find it worthwhile to meditate on one or more of the following questions:
1) Would you want to live forever as the person you are right now?
2) What is your current thinking about your own death?
3) How might you change your thoughts about your own death in order to live more fully right now?
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