Discovering Immortality

by Christopher Nyerges

Nyerges is the author of "Enter the Forest," "Urban Wilderness," "Guide to Wild Foods," and other books. He is the former editor of Lament, the magazine of Greater L.A. Area Mensa. He has been teaching outdoor classes since 1974. Together with his wife Dolores, they operate the School of Self-Reliance. For information on his classes and books, contact School of Self-Reliance at Box 41834, Eagle Rock, CA 90041 or

[edited by Vernon d'Evans]

This is a story that must be told.
This is a story that is meant to be heard.

When I was 14 I knew I was immortal
Or was it when I was 21?
I knew most certainly
(that arrogant youth-certainty)
that I was not my body
and that that "I"- something within
had lived forever

That seemed to be a good thing
to live forever
for childmind then could not grasp
the pain and poverty and lack
that most earth's people dwell within.
"Forever pain and poverty," I thought,
"would better to be dead"
at least that rolled around my head
the years and years that followed
my great realization
my internal expectation
of never-end continuance of life

You only have one life, was often said to me
implicit meaning was
to not waste one small moment
in this running narrative called life
But "one life" is a myth
that 14 me felt sure
for something going on and on
the questions true are how goes on and on
How you goes on and on
when you goes on an on
and where you /goes
when you goes on an on
for simply going round and round
is simpletonish goal
to say, I'm making progress
‘cause I'm never standing still
Is a man better who's working hard in the valley
or a man standing still on the hill
Freeze-moments tell near-nothing
that you need to know
about where going, and how, and why
Is there going nowhere very very fast
getting more and more ahead
quickly getting nowhere quicker
in the social daily commerce dance
I knew back then when I was 14, or was it 21?
that that is not what life's about
the daily running dance of money
quickly getting
quickly losing

And time went on as time goes on
I met the pain that others knew
I tasted hunger others knew
I teared the crying many know
as daily fare from day to day
I learned on going does go on
but how you go on is the all
Mere going on is not the thing
the thing is finding the how and living the how
in the now
here and now.

In my quest to discover
what my insight meant
that I would live forever
I had to explore
what "I" meant,
what "I" was
what "I" represented
separate from that part of me
that was "normalcy"-demented
that little me, little self, who barely saw today
let alone tomorrow
let alone the future clearly visible in the past
I had to come to know what is "I"
and what "immortal" means
and what it means to live (be thrill-alive)
and what it means to die (be living-dead)
and how these are the same
and different
my mind twirled-off in fancy flights
in realms where I could neither
fly nor light
but where I slowly came to know
that most of every hypno-life
is wasted time and fruitless fight
for more and more and more of strife.

Youth-arrogance "invulnerable"
and endless opportunity
has steady-dulled
the winds have blown erasing sand
o'er the footprints of illusions
and delusions
false impressions
and still, and yet, I see
that I was right at 14, or was it 21?
when knew that cycling life and death
goes on and on
and that we get just what we earn
on this vast multi-facet
prison-planet we call home
where we random-roam
try to discover
why we're here
what life's all about
about learning?
or evolving?
just growing?
beating-back fear?
learning how to love?
and eventually, after many meander-bites of life
here and there
up / down / in / out
finding a sustaining home,
which I insist can (does) exist
(as master said)
for those who have the courage
to look (and build) within.

And so, on the night I died
I discovered the truth of what I knew
when I was 14, or was it 21?
That I shall live forever.

by Christopher Nyerges -- written in the deep of night, February 2001. Dedicated to the memory of Israel ("IZ") Kamakawiwo'ole

Copyright © 2001 by Christopher Nyerges.
Back to the index.