humanity and immortality

What with celebrating Grandma Ruth’s 90th birthday

and with facing my own weakness and frailty last week…

I’ve been thinking about the Iliad, and most specifically Achilles

I confess, I have not completed read the Iliad. I want to…I’ve read part of it. I did get an excellent grade in my college class on the classics.

So, what I remember of this story is how Achilles was human. He was the son of an immortal goddess and a human king. And Achilles was going to die.

In fact, that was pretty much the dividing line between what was a god and what was human. Humans die.

Achilles railed against that dark night of death. He did not want to die, and he was resentful about it. The struggle that he had with this problem, as put forth in the poem the Iliad, pretty much set the tone for almost everyone that heard it.

What does it mean to be finite?

You can easily imagine that Achilles’ friend told him that as a mortal, he would have to see that glorious actions were the mortals path to immortality…the STORIES of his life would live forever, even if he did not.

So. Achilles struggled with his impending death and what he would be remembered for.

I know that Grandma Ruth has been considering her death and what will be left behind ever since her husband died. He died quite a long time ago.

And me…well…I’m not 90, but death has come up in my mind. As a child, we were taught to be ready to die for Jesus and a moment’s notice. You’d better be ready!

But this is grim. Who wants to think about it? It’s not a matter to discuss in polite conversation.

Except that Homer blew the subject wide open, with Achilles and his poem. Thank you Homer! and it wasn’t even a hand-wringing wussy sort of poem either. It’s full of brave men and the spurting blood of battle.

I don’t want to be grim, but this is part of humanity. It’s as mundane as doing the dishes.

Speaking of mundane, for the first time in my life, I have been called for jury duty. How have I managed to achieve this level of adulthood without experiencing this american civic call to duty?

I’ve never lived in one place that long. I am now more than two years at a single address. This is the longest I have lived in one place since I was a teenager.

And the job that I have, which seems to be the job I will keep into the far-distant future…is almost the longest I have ever worked in one place.

My life is narrowing. I can’t help but feel slightly nervous about it.

It’s a good thing. I tell myself that the narrowing is but a honing, a sharpening of a tool to a purpose.

Which is true. To accomplish, one must buckle down and focus on something. To have a thing, you must give up the possibility of other things.

These are the thoughts running through my head. and I really should start and finish the Iliad. I would probably be glad I did, once I finished.