If you tell someone that you can grant them a wish, any wish, and the only rule is that is has to be for themselves, you might get a variety of answers: a new laptop, a bigger house with no mortgage to pay off, a girlfriend, lose a few pounds, or maybe that fancy new sports car all the engineers are going gaga over.
Now think bigger. What do you think people will wish for? Win the lottery every time you enter? Total financial security? I think not. That’s still too small.
If you get people to be truly honest, most – particularly those who aren’t terribly religious – will tell you that their greatest wish is to not die. To live forever, and maybe even get some eternal youth tacked onto that as well. That is what they are most likely to answer.
But why do we say that?
Perhaps they have goals that would take a long time to accomplish? Do they want to sit idly by and watch as the rest of us slowly self-destruct? Or perhaps they just want all the time in the world to accomplish whatever grandiose goals they have set for themselves?
I think that the answer is something a little different.
It is said that rejection is the hardest thing a human heart can ever bear, I can attest to that fact. Something on par with that is being forgotten. Think about it for a minute. When someone forgets you, it’s as if they have rejected the memory of you, and you yourself by extension.
Whenever someone great in a tale is about to die, their last words are, more often than not, something along the lines of “remember me”. It’s not “save me” or “I don’t want to die”, it’s “[please don’t forget about me because that would be terrible]”. We have Remembrance Day for a reason.
Let’s face it, unless you’re already in Heaven, eternal life is impossible. You are not going to stumble upon the fountain of youth, no miracle of science is going to turn you into a jellyfish person and let you stay young and beautiful for all of eternity, and you are most definitely never going to find the Tree of Life (something which I am actually quite grateful for). But let’s face the facts here, if you don’t die, you don’t get forgotten. That’s why we want it so strongly.
Mortals will try all sorts of ways to be remembered. From the earliest records of civilization, we find traces of people who didn’t want to be forgotten. Architects build massive structures, artists create masterworks, even writers strive to create something that will be read and reread until the ends of time, even people with not much discernible talent will record their existences in diaries and journals. Great leaders even sought out ways to extend their lives as much as possible.
I think the song “Please Speak Well of Me” by The Weepies sums it up quite nicely. Here’s a link if you want to take a listen.
The sum of all this pseudo-philosiphising is simply this, when you get to the bare bones of things, we just don’t want to be forgotten. Buildings crumble, images fade, and paper will soon turn to dust. Nothing in this world is truly eternal. But there is hope. Even once you’re dead and long past the end of the universe and time itself there is someone who will always remember you no matter what. He keeps your memory etched on His heart and treasures it.
Atheists, agnostics, and those of conflicting faiths may dare to disagree, but the truth is that God loves us. He cares for us, He creates us, and He remembers us, all in love. So, those of you who may worry about the fate of being forgotten, rest easy, because He will forever keep us in his heart.