One day, at a very early age, I reached the conclusion that I would live forever. I remember saying to myself on that occasion, in all simple certainty, I cannot die. It was a revelation, not a plea, one which arose not from long deliberation or fear, but from the earth itself, and seemed to emanate from the palm of my upheld hand. This startling new truth was borne out by everything I heard, smelled, and saw in that childhood moment — the surrounding vineyards, the cloudless, dry-dusty sky, the hum of farm life, my own flesh, breath, and heartbeat. I was eternal without knowing the meaning of the word, or of its existence. My life, in its daily sum total, was my dictionary; so were my thoughts, which, as yet, I didn’t recognize as such. Loving solitude, but never alone, I was my own trusted, faithful companion. What not dying might have meant in everyday practical terms is a question I didn’t ask. The idea of having a soul wasn’t part of my thinking. I was simply here now, and always would be. I had no concept of knowledge, aging, or experience. Older people were older, younger people were younger, and always had been. Life was not to be gained or improved upon. How could one gain something he already had? How could something be better than perfect? Simply by being there, my life was everything everywhere, all at once. And yet, without some recognition or notion of death, would I have arrived at the conclusion I did? Without something to compare to my newfound immortality, would there have been any reason or need for it? Pets and farm animals died. My mother and father attended funerals. People died in the news, in the daily paper, and on television. What did death mean to me then? It meant that whoever had died, wasn’t here anymore. Looking back, I can see that my revelation didn’t extend beyond myself. It held no logic, as in, If I cannot die, then my brothers and parents cannot die. It only pertained to me.
[ 1686 ]
Tags: Aging, Certainty, Childhood, Death, Dictionaries, Eternity, Experience, Fear, Immortality, Knowledge, Logic, Memory, Our Old Farm, Perfection, Revelation, The San Joaquin Valley, Vineyards