People love to complain about how short life is, and that we never have enough time. But what if you had an abundance of time. The human mind struggles with the concept of infinity, and infinite time is no exception. We tend to think in decades and maybe centuries, but multiple millennia is such a long period of time that it’s hard to gain perspective.
Boredom can be destructive. Animals in zoos that face zero adversity often become a danger to themselves and others. And while this may sound like your neighbour’s spoilt kids, the fact is that humans thrive when they face adversity. Without challenges, our lifeforce is extinguished and our existence becomes pathological.
It is important to have a reason to get out of bed in the mornings. That is why people with families, pets, or even gardens tend to live longer than those who have nothing that depends on them. Some of the “Blue Zone” inhabitants don’t distinguish between working life and retirement. Instead, their view is that every day they do whatever is needed to look after the ones they love.
The golden rule
My first rule for facing eternity would be: Spend eternity taking care of the ones you love. That way you will never run out of steam. Religion will also anchor you pretty solidly.
This article proposes some slightly tongue-in-cheek ideas to get you through the boredom, but with a serious side to them!
Pacing yourself through the first few millennia
1. Make an afghan rug from scratch - the old way
Afghan rugs are simply beautiful. They are sustainable and long-lasting. Making a rug from scratch would entail that you first need to plant a forest. Why a forest? Well, you would need timber from which to build the ship that you would be sailing to the Arabian peninsula. From there you could sell the ship and use the proceeds to buy pack animals for your trek across the desert. Once in Afghanistan, you could apprentice yourself to rug makers. You could make it more interesting by learning from different tribes, as they all have unique ways of knotting and dying carpets. Then you could use the same process to return home with your carpets.
2. Build a cathedral - from scratch - Medieval style
Cathedral construction was typically a multi-generation undertaking. Only a few of the artisans and masons who started the construction would still be around when the cathedral was finished. This was often due to a shortage of funds, or a shortage of skilled labour. If you started from scratch, and were mainly on your own, using hand construction techniques, a single person would take at least a thousand years to complete their first cathedral. Firstly you would need to quarry the stone and use a hammer and chisel to break it into blocks. Construction would take several decades, not to mention finishing, tiling, plumbing and all the stained glass work.
3. Deep sea exploration - on Europa, Enceladus, Ganymede and the Dwarf Planet Pluto
A manned mission to Jupiter’s watery moon could take anything between 6 to 10 years. The complexities of getting a submarine through the ice and into the water would add a few more months to the timeline. A round trip, including a few years exploring the cold dark depths of Europa’s icy waters, would take the best part of 25 years. Adding Ganymede, which also orbits Jupiter, pushing further to Enceladus which orbits Saturn, and then finally on to Pluto, the round trip would take the best part of a quarter of a millennium. You could really extend yourself and travel out to the watery exoplanet, Kepler 22-B, located in the constellation of Cygnus, and 600 light-years from Earth. Travelling at 10% of the speed of light, a return trip would take 12 millennia. Better stock up on those Sudoku books!
4. Play your own symphony orchestra
Why not learn to play every instrument in a symphony orchestra. That way you could play every part of the performance, record it, and then overlay recordings to create a single piece of music. And, since you would have time on your hands, I would suggest that you start off by manufacturing every instrument that you play. The number of instruments is around 33. These range from string instruments like the violin and cello, to wood-wind instruments like the piccolo and clarinet, to brass instruments like the saxophone, and percussion instruments like chimes and the gong. It is often said that true mastery of any craft takes around 10,000 hours. If you spent 8 hours per day learning to master the art of making and playing 33 instruments, this project would keep you busy for approximately 230 years, provided you worked every day. Taking weekends off could just push it close to a quarter of a millennium.
5. Asteroid mining
The Asteroid belt is located between the inner and outer planets and is rich in metals and other rare minerals. In theory, one could land on an Asteroid, hollow it out and sell the ore. Given the distance between Earth and the Belt, such excursions and projects would take decades, and could easily be pushed to take a couple of centuries. Another option would be to go even further to the Kuiper Belt or Oort Cloud. Travelling at the speed that Voyager 1 is travelling at, a roundtrip would take around 600 years, excluding mining activities. I would recommend capturing a small comet while in the Oort cloud in order to use the hydrogen for your trip back to earth. By the time you got back to your home planet, your bank account would be such that you could live on the interest for eternity. Provided of course that you don’t touch the capital!
6. Illuminated manuscripts
These masterpieces of literature and art often took multiple artists several years to complete. A single artist, depending on the amount of art and calligraphy, would be able to stretch the process out for many years. Assuming you could make a fully illuminated manuscript in 20 years, you could complete 5 in a century, and 50 in a millennium. In medieval times such manuscripts were mostly done of the Bible and were thought of as priceless. Though, in an era where time is abundant, priceless would need to be redefined. Nonetheless, I would suggest making one for every grandchild and great-grandchild. Even if they have little monetary value, they would be highly treasured for their sentimental value. Sticking to the Bible or other religious texts would be a good way to ease yourself into the practice, but I would recommend moving on to Shakespeare, Dostoyevsky, and would love to see an illuminated manuscript of 100 Years of Solitude by Gabriella Garcia Marquez.
7. Developing the immortality bootcamp
You would not send someone into a war unprepared, therefore the same could be said about individuals facing unfamiliar and challenging circumstances. Training and preparation to deal with uncertainty and novel situations would go a long way to ensuring individuals succeed. This raises the question: Would a person need some training to deal with the challenges of immortality? Or, would it just be a skill or mindset that you would acquire over time? You could spearhead the development of an Immortality Bootcamp, a multi-millennia programme that would prepare applicants for eternity. Training and syllabus could include such aspects of adventure and crafts as mentioned elsewhere in this article. Other topics could include:
- Psychological preparation for intergalactic travel.
- Dealing with immortal in-laws.
- Tracking and dualling illegal clones.
- Is your AI assistant acting strange? Early detection of HAL 9000 behavioural anomalies.
- Dealing with friends who are experiencing “Eternity Dread”.
So there you have it, folks. These are but a few ideas to kill some time without dying of boredom. How would you challenge yourself throughout your immortality?