Love, Mutants, and the Ephemerality of Life

For me, it's spiders with wings.

Everyone seems to have some horrible combination of creatures, events, diseases, etc., that, if it were to happen, would surely push them over the edge of sanity. This is probably the stuff of SyFy Original Movie scripts, but on some deep, primal level, these fears show us that we know our mortality. Know it and probably hate it. Or at least hate its approach in mutated form.

How about mosquitoes and dysentery? Or the common cold and pancreatic cancer? Now we're moving into 12 Monkeys territory.

It's been noted time and again that the things we fear the most aren't always those most likely to happen. Terrorist attacks are far less likely to kill you than your average heart attack. Too bad we can't work up a morbid fear of hamburgers and soda pop.

Aside from our own mortality, we often fear change. We like things to be comfortable, or at least familiar, for the most part. Drastic changes can bring fears both legitimate and unfounded: the pure fear of the unknown has plagued our species since long before Hamlet realized he couldn't actually commit suicide, despite his otherwise depressed-emo lifestyle.

Yet, it is precisely the fact that life changes, that life ends, which gives it such meaning to us mere mortals. If we all lived forever and had nothing bad ever happen to us, could we appreciate, truly, the windfalls that come our way? Could we enjoy a day of sun as much if it hadn't just poured rain the week before? Could we love as fully in the moment if we had never lost a dear one? That bittersweet mix of emotion as we look into the eyes of our children, a combination of pure love, fear of inevitable hurts, and sheer joy at their existence--that is what it means to be alive.

I've experienced that, and been the richer for it. So bring on the flying mutant spiders.


  1. You can keep your flying spiders, but I'll take a wet kiss from a chubby-cheeked toddler any day :)

    Great post, and I've read another post a few days ago contemplating the meaning of life and death (mostly the afterlife). I wonder if it's the winter blahs that get us all philosophical?

    Either way, it's good, deep stuff, and I like people to dare to go there.

    I'm afraid of heights, by the way. Oh, and dolls--freaky-looking ones. And crowds. And that I'll be stuck in the house during a blizzard with no chocolate.

  2. Thanks, Mysti. I too am afraid of heights. Or more precisely, I'm afraid of inexplicably twitching near a sheer drop-off and plummeting to my death due to my own stupidity. :P

  3. Well, for me it's clowns, and that, unfortunately, is very likely to happen. :o( That's really a phobia, though. I have plenty of fears, but I think that beyond the physical consequences of most of them, I fear most what happens to others. It makes me feel helpless. Don't get me wrong, the possibility of someone taking an eye or cutting off my fingers or toes or whatever horrifies me, but the possibility of that happening to someone else horrifies me more. I'd like to think that I could somehow help people. We all at least have an inkling of an idea of how WE can handle something (though, truly, I think we surprise ourselves every time we have no choice--we can handle far more than we give ourselves credit for), but there's no telling how someone else will, and I often don't wish to find out. I'm perhaps wording this quite badly. I care for myself, but I think I tend to care for others more. I'm sure you understand what I'm getting at, since you're a mother.

    As for the philosophical part, I think it's proof for the existence of God and an afterlife. We never really seem to satiate ourselves. We fill voids for short periods of time, but the feeling comes back. Our souls long for something, yet we're afraid of death. We want to live. I think that's proof that we're meant to go to Heaven. We're not made for this world, and our fear of death is really our grasping for life, but not having experienced Heaven, we cannot truly understand that it's what we're meant to grasp for. I should probably wait until after coffee before writing philosophical essays on your blog. Or anyone's.