I’ve heard a lot of people say that life needs to come to an end to be meaningful. What I think that really means is that if people didn’t have a time limit, they wouldn’t try to find a way to leave a mark on the world. They would be the mark.
In The Lotus War, people are acutely aware of their lifetime constraints because there’s the constant reminder that their neighbors (and enemies) the elves are not bound to the same constraints. They live to leave a mark on the world, be it in passing by passing on their genes to future generations or by leaving change in their wake (like winning a war). As a mortal creature myself, that attitude wasn’t too hard to understand. Understanding an indefinitely-spanned being took more thought.
If you had no pressure in life to leave your “mark” on the world, how would you find meaning?
I started to think: something beautiful and lasting that we can be a part of is nature. By being in sync with the state of life and existence itself – what larger scope could you be part of? This bond with nature, this willingness to “complete their cycles” with nature makes them feel very spiritual. It adds a sense of meaning to be part of something larger, more beautiful, and more important. To them, there is nothing worse than a natural cycle of life being cut short – it’s an affront to their very life philosophy.
They also have come to view life as a series of moments rather than one period of time. Even elves phase out of existence, if natural, they enter a stage, attaining status as an “Ancient”, and begin to become one with nature once again – promoting the view of their lives as another natural cycle. Human life cycles are depressing to them, as the finite life of a human eventually becomes buried by an infinity of moments of non-existence. Or, to put it in the words of Roy Batty, “All those moments will be lost in time like tears in rain. Time *cough* to die. *Dies*”
What do you think? Is this an appropriate view for a long-living race?