immortality:  the quality or state of being immortal:  a :  unending existence; b :  lasting fame


  1. She believed in the immortality of the soul.
  2. He found immortality through his films.


Over the last months, I have been thinking a lot about immortality. Being in Italy for three months, I was surrounded by examples of the immortality of definition b and example 2. As I stood in a church, overawed by the intricacy of a mosaic, or got dizzy looking at an incredible fresco on a museum ceiling, I understood that the creators of these had achieved immortality. Even if the names of the artists are not as well-known as those of Michelangelo or Giotto, as long as people are looking at these creations, the artists have achieved immortality.

What about those of us who are not Michelangelo or Giotto? What is our immortality? People of religious beliefs have an answer, but I am not one of them, so I wonder about what, if any, immortality there is for the rest of us.

Perhaps there’s a kind of immortality in a child reared to have a happy life, in a word spoken at a time when it made a positive difference in someone’s life, in a job well-done. I like to think of these things as having a continuing thread through our collective existence – that a word or action that created a moment of goodness or beauty in or for another person passes onto another person, and then another person through years and decades and centuries. Maybe this immortality isn’t as obvious as a beautiful fresco or an imposing statue or a spectacular dome, but it’s there nonetheless.

“Immortality.” Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 11 Feb. 2014. <;.

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