An eternal salvation is therefore not only unattainable but also undesirable, since it would eliminate the care and passion that animates our lives. What we do and what we love can matter to us only because we understand ourselves as mortal. That self-understanding is implicit in all our practical commitments and priorities. The question of what we ought to do with our time — a question that is at issue in everything we do — presupposes that we understand our time to be finite.
Hence, mortality is the condition of agency and freedom. To be free is not to be sovereign or liberated from all constraints. Rather, we are free because we are able to ask ourselves what we ought to do with our time. All forms of freedom — the freedom to act, to speak, to love — are intelligible as freedom only insofar as we are free to engage the question of what we should do with our time. If it were given what we should do, what we should say, and whom we should love — in short: if it were given what we should do with our time — we would not be free.
While serving my time, I was reminded of a passage from a book by Yoko Tawada that describes arriving somewhere after air travel as a “soulless state,” since souls can't travel as quickly as airplanes can. When it comes to cross-continental trips especially, they’re always lagging behind. — Meg Miller