The Fountain of Youth

apricots.jpg
image by al-hayat

Here’s a short story – I wrote the main part in the mid 90s and added the epilogue in 2009:

Melvyn found the Fountain of Youth in his backyard. He wasn’t even looking for it—he had just intended to do some weeding. The little trickle of water was dribbling out from between some rocks underneath some unremarkable low plants. He was quite surprised—he had not noticed it before.

Melvyn was feeling rather thirsty on that hot afternoon, and he thought about having a drink from the little stream. He was not normally given to drinking water he found in the backyard, but this time he thought “what the hell”, and scooped a couple of handfuls into his mouth. The water was cool, and perhaps a little salty, and it did the job… Melvyn didn’t think much about it and went on with his weeding.

A while later Melvyn was feeling tired—even drowsy—and he decided he had earned a rest. He stretched out underneath the apricot tree, sinking into the lawn that was due for a mow. He had no idea how, but somehow, while lying there, he got the idea that drinking from the water he’d found could make you young forever, if that was what you wanted.

The idea was compelling. All sorts of strange feelings came rushing through him. He felt very heavy at first… he was really thinking about death itself for the first time. He had always brushed the idea of death aside—after all, he was only not quite 30 years old. He knew people died and had always assumed death was a natural part of living, so growing old and dying would be alright when the time came. But he had never really thought about it. Now, thinking he might have options, the idea of death hit him like a dark force, swirling and horrible, more powerful than him. And he decided it was an outrageous idea that his life could be ended against his will.

At the same time he was noticing a shimmering, glimmering ocean of possibilies spreading out around him, and feeling a growing sense of steady excitement welling up inside. A wave of certainty came across him… aah… he had known there was more to life.

Melvyn did a lot of resting under the apricot tree over the next few days, refreshing himself now and then from his small stream. He started to realize what an amazing discovery he had made, and began to feel very excited. “Isn’t this what everyone wants? All I have to do is put the water into nice little bottles and I can give them away to anyone who wants them. “I won’t sell them” he thought (Melvyn was very idealistic, with socialist tendencies).

What made him happiest of all was the thought of giving some to his mother. He knew she would be as excited as he was (and he would not have to worry about watching her grow old and looking after her, or worry about speaking at her funeral).

– – –

Two months had gone by; the leaves on the apricot tree were starting to turn golden brown. Melvyn had not mentioned his find to anyone—he thought he would wait until he was more sure of himself. He had no doubts about the mysterious power of the water, but was not sure how he could explain it to anyone. He had started buying a collection of interesting small bottles—there was quite a craze on for perfume and essential oils, so they were easy to come by. He had a good salary with his clerical job at the Storemans’ Union, and spared no expense.

Melvyn’s mother

One day Melvyn came in from the garden, as a storm was brewing, to find his mother looking ashen-faced. He asked “what’s the matter, are you OK?”
“Oh, it’s only my arthritis playing up again, but it’s getting worse… don’t worry, I’m just getting old.”
Melvyn decided to take the plunge. He went and got a small green glass bottle filled with his water. “Look Mum” he said, “I’ve found this water… if you drink it, it will make you young forever!”
“But why would I want to live forever?”

This was not what Melvyn was expecting. Sure, a protest that it could not possibly be true—it could not be done. But it was not what she wanted? He was so perplexed he did not say anything, and he put the bottle back with the others, on the shelf in his room.

That night he plucked up courage to ask her why—why didn’t she want to try his water?
“Well everyone’s got to die sometime, dear, and why would I want to go on living forever, I’d get so bored! Growing old is part of the natural cycle of life.” And with that she finished applying her triple-hydroxy-hypoxy-fruit-acid rejuvenation cream, and went to bed.

– – –

Melvyn was disappointed in his mother’s response, but as for himself, he felt like he was flying. He felt like he was on the Big Dipper at Luna Park, except it was whizzing around in the air. He was having constant revelations, tumbling out and over each other like boulders falling down a mountainside. All those things he had been doing so he would have something to remember in old age. All those times he had got up early because if he didn’t fit as much as he could into the day he would end up having had an empty life. He realized he had plenty of time, he could afford to find out what he really wanted to do—what really satisfied him. Although he felt like he was moving faster, he slowed down, relaxed a little, and took his time.

Melvyn’s girlfriend

Melvyn had a girlfriend, Alice. They saw each other once or twice a week. Alice was more politically conservative than Melvyn, which annoyed him a little, but she was good fun and they enjoyed doing things together. She was in a choir that was going to perform Handel’s Messiah that Easter. She sang alto.

One afternoon they were hanging around in her bedroom and Melvyn told her about his water.
“But why would you want to stay young forever?’ was the response.
“Why don’t you?” countered Melvyn.
“It just isn’t natural, we are meant to grow old” she replied, “and besides, I believe in life after death.”

Melvyn dropped the subject, and they chatted on about something else. Then he spotted a jar of alpha-hydro-romeo-quadruple-stomatal youthing cream on her dressing table. “What’s this for?” he asked.
“That’s to keep my skin looking young” came the reply.
“Uh-huh” he muttered. “Do you want to catch that film tonight?” he enquired.
“Yep… can you pick me up at seven o’clock? I want to do some practice for choir, first”.
“Sure”, he said, as he closed her bedroom door and headed for the kitchen to grab a glass of water. On his way out through the front door he heard bursting forth from her room: “Even so in Christ, shall all be made alive… ” He shrugged his shoulders, rolled his eyes and went home.

– – –

A few months went by and Melvyn made only some fleeting references to his water, more as a stir than anything else. The life-insurance salesman was puzzled by the strangest rejection he had yet encountered, and “life’s too short” comments were likely to be met with an enigmatic challenge. Alice totally forgot all about it, although she did admire the collection of little bottles in Melvyn’s room.

The TV chat show

Somehow, through an extraordinary set of circumstances, Melvyn found himself one evening a guest on a late-night TV chat show. He had mentioned his water to someone in a cafe, the word was passed on, and it had taken the imagination of the TV show host.

So there he was in the TV studio, armed with two of his little bottles, reclining in a comfy chair and trying to look worldly.
“So tell me about your water, the water you found—is that it there?” began the cool and very amusing TV chat show host.
“Yes it is” replied Melvyn, “I have several of these bottles full at home, and more where that came from in the garden.”
“And this water has special properties, you say?”
“Yes, I am absolutely convinced that drinking this water will make you live forever.”

Melvyn and the host both drew deep breaths. Melvyn was not stupid, he knew how ridiculous his claim sounded. The host wanted to make the interview entertaining without making a fool of his guest. They both looked out to the audience, who by now were yelling, almost in unison “WHY WOULD YOU WANT TO?” The interview ran on for several more minutes, with a series of amusing exchanges. Melvyn was quite pleased with himself—the pressure brought out a talent for wittiness he had not quite realized he had.

As Melvyn was driving home, running the interview over and over in his head, he realized that neither the host nor the audience had scoffed at his claim about the water’s powers. But they did not want it. They thought living forever was a crazy idea.

Most of the audience went on to the pub down the road from the TV studio, and many got blind drunk. They liked that—it made them feel invincible. Then they went home and went to bed, most of the women remembering to apply their scientifically-enhanced replenishing face creams.

– – –

Melvyn found it perplexing that no-one was interested in the bubbling little stream in his backyard, but it did not worry him greatly. He was more contented and sure of himself these days and was enjoying life. Eventually he came across some people who had their own special water supplies, with properties the same as his own. He discovered he didn’t have much in common with them on the social level, so he only saw them occasionally, but it was nice to know they were there.

THE END

Epilogue

Many years later, Melvyn found himself surrounded by people who had their own special water supplies. His relationship with Alice hadn’t lasted—he was with Yvonne now, whom he met at a peace rally. Yvonne hadn’t understood Melvyn’s water at first, but after a while, she thought “why not?!” and she started sharing Melvyn’s supply.

Melvyn and Yvonne had 6 kids, and they brought them up to see themselves as living forever. Yvonne became a successful mommy blogger, giving tips on how to raise children free from fear, and Melvyn got into developing software for running Windows programs on Macs.

Many of Melvyn’s friends had their own special water supplies by now—it was the norm, in fact. It wasn’t that big a deal to them, in the end… they simply thought living forever sounded like a good idea. Even Melvyn’s mother decided to go with the water—her life had been getting better and better and she felt like a kid inside, anyway.

The TV chat show host became known for his excellent TV series where he interviewed interesting people, giving them “enough rope” that they could really share themselves.

* * *

Well if you’ve got as far as the end of this, it’d be great to hear what you think!

Actually, I am wondering what to do next with this blog. When I leave comments on other people’s blogs, I feel I am sort of “asking” them to look at my blog. But I feel a bit uncomfortable doing this, because of the subject matter. I never push these ideas onto anyone in real life (I rarely mention them) and I don’t wish to do that on the internet. I would however like to share these ideas with anyone who is interested, and am enjoying the blog platform very much.

I am aware these ideas can be upsetting to a person who is grasping them for the first time—eg paragraph 4 of Melvyn’s story. And I don’t want to make anyone feel uncomfortable. I feel that connecting with other bloggers is the only way to grow a blog, realistically, so I’m in a bit of a quandary. If anyone who has been reading this blog has any perspectives they think might help, I’d appreciate it if you let me know about them either in the comments section or in an email. Thanks!

Cheers – Robin

More posts, a random selection:

Comments

  1. Well, I believe that much like Melvyn’s experience, no one is going to take your idea of physical immortality seriously.

    Having said that, it is an interesting idea at the philosophical level. I don’t mind reading about it or discussing it… I just think that it’s unlikely that you will get me to agree with you.

    Assuming most people are like me, can you sustain this blog? I don’t know. Maybe it will be the next big thing. 🙂 But you might want to consider broadening your topic a little, maybe not focusing just on physical immortality but also on spiritual immortality. Or on ways to make life longer and fuller, rather than endless.

    I’m just throwing an idea out there, haven’t thought it out completely.

    I wouldn’t want you to disappear, that’s for sure. You write well and have an unusual, lively personality. I like that.

  2. I like the story. Look at it this way, great ideas are usually frowned upon at first before they are finally get accepted.

    I say keep writing. Keep leaving comments. And who knows, we may end up finding the fountain of youth and you’ll be the first one who can say, “I told you, so.”

    I do enjoy your blog because of it’s uniqueness. It’s strange that we spend so much money on anti-aging products and yet it’s difficult for people to grasp the concept of physical immortality.

    I get it, I just don’t think it’s possible, right now at least.

  3. Dear robin, a great story. I think you observed very well the human nature and I think the reactions of the characters in your story is believable.
    H.G. Wells changed in his stories only one thing and then told what happened in this changed world. Your story is alike. Thank you.

  4. In the book “Ageless Body, Timeless Mind”, Deepak Chopra holds that we age because of stress and because we expect to age. The hero of your story doesn’t expect to age, and he’s relaxed because he thinks he has all the time in the world to do what he wants, so I guess this is along the same lines of what Deepak Chopra says. I’m a strong believer in the mind-body connection. Also, as medicine improves we are living longer and longer, so, maybe . . .

  5. Thanks everyone!
    @Vered – thanks for your input – I had been thinking of trying to broaden the blog while somehow keeping the physical immortality focus – and thanks for your lovely words of encouragement!
    @Chris – Thanks – I really appreciate your input. I really must say, though, that these ideas are not mine – they come from all sorts of places.
    @rainer – thanks – and I must say you have a beautiful blog.
    @Marelisa – great to hear from you – I haven’t read Deepak’s book ‘Ageless Body Timeless Mind’ – I suppose I should! Thanks for your insights – I really appreciate the feedback.

    As I mentioned to Chris, the ideas I am putting forward about physical immortality are not originally mine – they come from various sources and have been spread in the west mainly by Sondra Ray and Leonard Orr (as far as I know).

  6. Robin,

    First, you are an awesome person with big heart. For that, pat your back.
    Second, as Chris said new ideas take time to get accepted but I also agree with Vered that it may help if you broaden the subject with mind-body-soul connection for physical and spiritual being. Read some of Chopra’s books as Marelisa suggested. You’ll find new wisdom or shall I say a new dimension to your wisdom.
    BTW, never give up. We all love your posts!

    Cheers!

    Shilpan

  7. Hi, Robin.

    It really depends on what _you_ want to do with your blog. Are you trying to take over the world? Then you would be better off writing about broader topics, more appealing to the masses. Do you only want to share your personal views on the specific topic of immortality? Fine, do it… but you know that your reader base may be loyal, but relatively small. The important thing behind all this issue is your motivation. If you have to write about more generic themes, but you don’t have any motivation for doing so, I think it’s better to stay focused on the topics you really like.

    Personally, I think that your storytelling abilities are excellent. You could use such gift to tell inspirational stories about life, love, finance, women’s power, self-confidence… not only immortality.

    I have to admit that I didn’t like the final paragraphs of your post. I perceived Melvyn as a lonely character, and perhaps it’s only me, but… such final paragraphs were written by Melvyn or by Robin?

  8. I’ve read about the idea of the possibility of living forever by Esther and Jerry Hicks. I can’t remember which book exactly. But Abraham did say that it would be possible but one has to be very pure in his or her intention.
    I am not sure if I really want to live forever in my physical state but I do believe that it is our consciousness and soul that leaves forever. It’s my first visit here; so I am not sure if this is the take that you are already having for your site.
    Nevertheless, I enjoyed your story. Is “Melvyn” you?

    Evelyn Lims last blog post..17 Examples of Classic And Everyday NLP Anchors

  9. From my perspective, it has never seemed like I had a choice. I’ve had times when I wanted to live a long time, and times when I wished my life was over.

    When people read blogs, they know that it’s someone’s personal thoughts, so finding unusual opinions isn’t surprising and I don’t think you need to worry about it. You’ll just find a lot of people who stop by and then leave for good because it’s not what they’re interested in, I suppose. I don’t feel any sense of pushing anything on readers from your blog.

    Dots last blog post..One Heartbreaking Day

  10. Just found your blog from Squidoo. My latest novel, Rabbit in the Moon by Deborah & Joel Shlian is about finding the secret of longevity (not immortality because we wanted people not to consider it SF at this point). I assumed everyone would want to live to at least 150 if they could be assured of quality of life, but when I speak to groups, it’s surprising how many people say that “life would get boring” if they lived too long. Hard for me to believe anyone could get bored..

    BTW my husband and I were in Melbourne last January. Great city.

  11. @Shilpan – thanks Shilpan. You and Chris are quite right about new ideas taking time to be accepted!
    @Herrera – thanks for the compliments! You are right about doing the things we feel motivated about – it’s crucial, for me.
    @Evelyn – As I write this reply 8 months later, as it happens I was looking at a physical immortality group on Yahoo this morning and they were talking about Abraham’s words on this topic. They were along the lines that we can change anything – I’ll have to investigate this further. Melvyn is partly me and partly other people!
    @Dot – yes you are right about the visitors. I think we can choose to believe we have a choice (???), if we want to, even if the means is not immediately apparent!
    @Deborah – Hi there and welcome! Your book sounds very interesting! I had a look at your website. That’s interesting that you are speaking to groups – is that about your book, of about longevity in general?

  12. I laughted and laughed at your humor in this. Especially the three mentions of the rejeuvenating creams. She was an alto in the choir, such a funny little tidbit. Windows for Macs too.

    Great imagination you have, Robin.

    I took this to mean youth is actually in the attitude of the water beholder!

    (Now… back to your “future” post.)

    Jannie Funsters last blog post..Missing things

  13. Hi Jannie – thanks for that. I used to sing alto in a choir that did The Messiah – that’s where that came from. You are not lacking in the imagination department, yourself!

  14. Hello robin, I stumbled onto your site. You’re really special. I would love to live a long time, but with good looks and health ( I hate aging) I am a little bitter about death and aging it is fun to see you make fun of it all a little bit. I also suffer from very poor health. So that colors my perspective a little.

  15. Robin,

    I understand what you’re trying to do here (and now i have spent the last hour reading your blog). I like the dialectic aspect to this dialogue with the girlfriend and mother.
    I so wish we’ll find the way to live forever, i’m 35. It will be probably in my kids life that something will be found.
    I don’t see much of an ethical problem with living forever. We will all want it. Dying is just plain silly. The next generations will live -just like this ipod generation- being born with the idea that death has been abolished. The next problem will be to find space for all of us.

    Thanks so much again
    .-= healthygirl´s last blog ..Beam me up Star Trek stethoscopes soon with us ! =-.

  16. @Pamela – I’m glad you enjoyed it, Pamela!
    @healthygirl – hi there healthygirl – I’m so glad you see things this way – it makes perfect sense to me. The iLive generation!

  17. Hi Robin,

    I’d say go ahead and make people uncomfortable with your physical immortality idea. How else can you possible spread the idea and bring new awareness to this world? Just do it gently as you have been, one bit of discomfort at a time ^_^ so that they don’t just react and leave you.

    Most people (me included) just need some time to swallow the new idea. So you are doing a favor by making them uncomfortable. Don’t get trapped with your ego’s need to be “nice”.

    Blessings,
    Akemi
    .-= Akemi – Yes to Me´s last blog ..Dogma, Anti-Dogma, And Choosing Your Path In Diet And Spirituality =-.

  18. Hi Robin,
    Yep I agree with Akemi – you are doing a fantastic job Robin. Sometimes a little ‘chaos’ needs to be inserted into ‘the order’ for the new order to be established – gently down the stream we go…….
    lots of love Janni
    .-= Janni Lloyd´s last blog ..Perfectly Imperfect……… and a ‘cracked pot’ story. =-.

  19. Hi Akemi and Janni – it’s interesting to get some feedback 18 months after I wrote that passage! Thanks both of you for your support – I really appreciate it.

  20. I am physically immortal now, and I have known it for 25 years. You are not crazy. There are many physically immortal people around the world. 138 immortals live in Arizona and have created an immortal community. Others around the world partcipate in the events via video stream. We experience aliveness together, uplift each other and continually expand.
    I invite you to check out the website. It is quite an amazing environment to be a part of and to be nourished by. : )
    .-= Lisa´s last blog ..People Unlimited Schedule of Events featuring James Strole, Bernadeane and Charles Paul Brown =-.

  21. Hii! 😀 I want to be a pre teen/early teen FOREVER! 😀 Like between 11 and 14, heee 😀 It’s the TRUE me and I always want it and I love it! 😀

Trackbacks

  1. […] in May last year I posted a short story: The Fountain Of Youth. I wrote this in the mid 90s, and I published it pretty much as I wrote it […]

Speak Your Mind

*