I’ve been thinking a lot about the true meanings of never and always. These are difficult concepts for humans to ponder and grasp.

That’s why I’ve been pondering death and the universe. Rather than a morbid fixation, my thoughts about death are general practical since they encapsulate the core of many challenges humans face.

As I’ve mentioned before, death has essentially already happened. Not just to me, but to everyone and everything to ever live, to every proton in the whole universe. It barely even matters when someone dies since everyone is dead for the same amount of time – forever. Even any immortals surviving to the heat death of the universe have the same blank infinity of knowing and doing and feeling nothing to look forward to.

Death is the great equalizer in this regard. It’s also the great neutralizer. We humans scramble wildly to accrue memories before we die…why? It’s not like we can take them with us. It’s not like others can remember them for us. Any archive of work we leave behind, any lasting impacts our lives have on others and the world around, will be similarly forgotten without a trace. The sun will explode, our solar system destroyed and ever byte of data, every spark of life, every memory ever made will be lost and never recovered.

When? It doesn’t matter. Eventually. Inevitably.

That’s the weird thing about time. We experience it as a linear sequence of events. But that’s just how we perceive it, only ever existing in a singular now until they day we transition to existing in an expansive always. The only difference between now and always are the limits of our perceptions. Our brains simply cannot fathom infinity.

1

The Infinite Hotel Paradox2 demonstrates just how out-of-hand things can get when trying to parse infinity.

If you really ponder it deeply, since numbers are fractionally infinite, a single second could be sliced up in such a way to last forever. But while this is rationally and mathematically true, we could never possibly perceive or experience that (even when waiting for test scores or at the DMV).

So if our minds cannot perceive of fundamental realities we can prove in ways outside of our immediate experience, what other truths of the universe are we missing? What else is beyond our grasp, our unknown unknowns?

Coming to a solid answer might literally take us forever.

  1. TED. “The Infinite Hotel Paradox - Jeff Dekofsky” YouTube. January 16, 2014. Link 

  2. “Hilbert’s paradox of the Grand Hotel” Wikipedia. Link