Grocery shopping is normally a lovely experience. But even the most saliva-drip-inducing proximity to raw meat and bread can be spoiled.

Our nearby Loblaws store plays real popular music tracks over its P.A. system, not the crappy instrumental muzak so popular elsewhere. Tonight they spent several minutes playing Michael Jackson’s 1983 hit “Thriller”.

It is not hard to turn my state from stolid to sentimental. My age may still be slightly tender, but I’ve had to think about time passage and mortality since the tenderer age of ten or so. That’s when I first understood that we and the universe were going to die, and it got me down for some time. Now the awareness is just a little whisper at the back of my mind, ready to be yanked into the forefront on the slightest provocation. The musical number did that for me tonight.

More than twenty years have gone by since that music was recorded. The world has changed and we have all aged. Many good people have gone, like Vincent Price who lent his voice to that tune. I don’t personally miss the man, having never met him and only seen little fragments of work, but the sense of loss is somehow palpable anyway. It’s so permanent. Ronald Reagan won’t perform another speech; Roy Orbison won’t share his angel voice. Many millions of anonymous people will be lost.

Maybe the best way of finding cheer amongst all this aging and decay is to shift one’s attention to the up-and-coming next generations. One might contribute to them directly by the careful exercise of mammalian mitosis. But new lives can’t replace old ones: they take a huge and painful investment to get to a productive level, and even then their ultimate contributions are unpredictable. We play venture capitalists under a genetic imperative, knowing that our own assets are destined to dissolve.

Maybe Ray Kurzweil or his kind will succeed in creating a copy-a-mind-into-a-machine widget before it’s too late. Other than funding new experiences which to remember, what could be a better use of money?