High up in an apartment block in Toronto, Viggo Mortensen was padding around barefoot, cleaning up the kitchen after lunch and speaking, in his soft-voiced way, about his longing for immortality. “I’m not afraid of death,” he said, wiping down a counter with a damp cloth, “but I resent it. I think it’s unfair and irritating. Every time I see something beautiful, I not only want to return to it, but it makes me want to see other beautiful things. I know I’m not going to get to all the places I want to go. I’m not going to read all the books I want to read. I’m not going to revisit certain paintings as many times as I would like. There’s a limit.” He paused. “I mean, I understand limits are good for character and all that, but I would rather live forever.”
Some things stay with you. I have gone past the age when I realize I will never have time to read all the books I want to read. That I will never see enough sunsets to fill my heart. That I will never accomplish the things I wanted to. Laziness. Lack of courage. Fear. But I don’t want to live forever either. The time we have is the time we have. You start from where you are is what they say. I mean, where else are you going to start?
I’m not sure where I’m going here except that last evening I got my butt up and drove to the lake near where I live and walked a little and saw the sun set – peaking through the smoke of fires that have been burning for over two weeks now – and it was kind of beautiful.
A few days after our meeting, Mortensen called and left a message on voice mail. He had been thinking about what he’d said regarding immortality and he was concerned now that perhaps he had taken too vehement a position: “I know I said I wanted to live forever and I would never be bored, but the reality is, it’s probably kind of sad to live forever if you’re the only one sticking around. I guess living through injury and disease is pretty hard too, so I don’t know — maybe immortality is not such a great thing. You know, Freud accepted his lot very stoically and very well and with a sense of humor. He aged and died gracefully and there’s a lot to be said for that. Still, it would be nice to live a little longer, with your mind intact and your body reasonably functioning. . .”