3: On human frailty and immortality projects

3: On human frailty and immortality projects

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Last week, I went on a hike in a remote canyon, hence the lack of a Museletter. It was great to be disconnected for almost the entire five days - I highly recommend a digital detox of the sort if you can.

Whilst hiking, or rather boulder hopping as the terrain demanded, one thing became abundantly clear: we're rather vulnerable little creatures. At any moment, an ankle could twist, or you could lose your footing and fall a good few metres to a serious injury. There was also lots of grabbing on trees and navigating dense bushes, where I kept wondering if someone might grab a boomslang or step on a puff adder, both highly venomous snakes, not uncommon in the area. One morning I woke up to find a scorpion under my sleeping mat, which was slightly disconcerting.

Maybe I index slightly higher on neuroticism than others, thereby hindering my enjoyment of such wild moments, but I don't think this is the case. I think an awareness of this frailty is key to appreciation - that our bodies mostly do a great job of holding it together, and that ankles and knees can take the brunt of some pretty rough impacts with the rocks. More importantly, how we rely on those around us for our well-being.

A highlight of the hike was coming across San rock art, which made me think back to people over 1 000 years ago in the same canyon, immortalising their experiences in the rock. I doubt, though, that they were unconsciously angsting about their "immortality" projects, as so many of us do. They were just having a good time painting, art for art's sake. I hope to engage more of this "just for the sake of it" attitude, starting with an illustration of my own experience in the canyon (with a little bit of inspiration, mimicking the red human figures in the rock art).

Why all this talk of immortality projects? Well, that was serendipitous, as I listened to a great Philosophize This! podcast this week, which explores the origins of our quest for immortality in Ernest Becker's book, "The Denial of Death". It's well worth a listen if you have 30-minutes of dishes to do 🙂

Lastly, if the reason you're doing the dishes in the first place is that you lost at rock paper scissors, check out this video to outwit your sneaky opponent, who somehow keeps beating you in what should be a random game. Or is that just me?

See you next time!

Dario

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