Whilst the word eternal doesn’t itself bring to mind the supernatural, if we substitute in the popular synonym immortal, the image that immediately springs to mind is a vampire. Immortality is the first word many people use to describe a vampire, followed by the wish that they, too, could live forever. But is this really the case? Given the choice, would you honestly choose to never die?
Eternal is a word with endless meaning. It stretches to infinity, and yet is uttered without thought of exactly how long our intentions are meant to last. When you say you will be eternally grateful for someone’s help, is this what you really mean? Or are you simply emphasising how grateful you will be?
Ageless is another synonym of eternal, but I tend to disagree with this. Even if you could live forever, you would still age, albeit at a much slower rate. Yet when this word is used to convey beauty, it is the highest compliment anyone could pay, as it implies that no matter your age, you will always be beautiful.
Always is another term for eternal, and one frequently used with forever, when in theory they mean the same thing. Using words in such a way heightens the emphasis behind what it is you are trying to say or convey, making that person sit up and listen to you.
One famous heartbreaking quote in Harry Potter encompasses this word. When Dumbledore asks Snape, ‘After all this time?’ Snape simply replies, ‘Always.’ This is in reference to his love for Harry’s mother Lily, and no matter your thoughts of Snape, your heart goes out to his unrequited love.
Eternal is most often used when we talk about love. It is how we express our true feelings for someone, how we tell them what they mean to us, how we make a promise that we will try our best to keep. In Titanic, the final words between Jack and Rose use another word which implies eternity:
Jack: Never let go.
Rose: I’ll never let go. I’ll never let go, Jack.
Using the word never in such a way, Rose is making a lifelong, or eternal, promise to Jack that she will live her life to the fullest, even though she will be living it without him, the man she is in love with.
When I named Eternal Bonds, it was with more than just love in mind. I wanted to convey the everlasting nature of friendship, of loyalty, and of strength. But strength can have positive and negative connotations. The strength Antony shows when faced with adversity is an enduring part of his personality, yet the sacrifice he makes to save Becca highlights the power the Sirens cast over him, a power which is indestructible.
Indestructible when viewed as the port in a raging storm is a perennially enduring place of strength. But turn that around and have an indestructible comet racing towards the earth, and suddenly this relentless threat has us praying for our lives.
Another way of looking at the word eternal is in reference to always being remembered, or never being forgotten. The most famous of all memorials of this kind is the eternal flame burning beside the tomb of John F Kennedy in Arlington Cemetery (pictured). Is this a symbol of Jackie’s undying love for him, or is it a reminder to the world of his loss, or is it both?
The unending, ceaseless, abiding fascination with eternity is timeless and will continue, unfading beyond our time on earth.
But going back to my earlier question of whether you would really and truly want to live forever, I refer to the tagline for the movie we all hate to love, Twilight:
When you can live forever, what do you live for?
’Til next time,