‘The Age Of Adaline’ is a study of mortality through a kind of ‘immortality’. No, there are no mythical vampires in the film, though the suggested phenomenon of possibly pausing human ageing, albeit accidentally is fictitious too. Struck by lightning one night, that somehow halted her ageing metabolism, Adaline remains at the age of 29. To also avoid being caught as a human freak or marvel of nature, she lives alone to prevent the heartbreak of eventual departure due to death. She keeps creating new identities and moves from one place to another, staying only in touch occasionally with her daughter who physically ages beyond her.
While we can empathise with her fears of forging new relationships, it is a pity that the story did not explore the nobler possibility of her learning to love more and more with less and less attachment. This would be evolution from samsarically conditioned love of one or a few to become enlightened unconditional love of all! The truth is, people do change in character, even if not dying physically. Even if Adaline found a life partner who does not age, heartbreak is still possible if there are expectations clung to. The Middle Path of having equanimity, free from particular attachments and aversions, yet without loss of care and concern is thus wise.
Whether she sees every beautiful memory with a beloved lost one with painful regret or glad rejoice would be a measure of her ability to make peace with this ephemeral world. With ample time and without the interruption of death that wipes out the past life’s memories, she should had been able to understand herself and humanity much better, to be literally wise beyond her apparent years. Even if her body did not grow old, (which is technically impossible in Samsara, due to the natural law of impermanence of all mind and matter constantly functioning here), ideally, her mind should had grown on and on, developing spiritually!
Adaline develops a deathwish, of wanting to growing old together with a loved one, to be equally mortal. But is this truly a case of ‘happily ever after’? Unless the couple departs together, one still has to die before the other. So long as she does not make peace with transience, there is still potential for heartbreak. Through another accident, she begins to age naturally again. Perhaps this is the final lesson, that it always makes sense to live this year, this month, this day, as if it might be your last, even if you feel like you are in your prime and imagine you are ‘immortal’, because indeed, with the unpredictability of life, it might be the last.
It is worth noting that life did not become fantastic just because Adaline did not have to die at first. Life becomes a string of endless work, with distracting temptations of attachment and threats that stir aversion. Samsara is no Pure Land after all. What would you do, if you are stuck in the age of Adaline, in the prime of youth? Incidentally, in Amituofo’s (Amitabha Buddha) Pure Land, beings there can bask in his meritorious blessings, along with that from their own spiritual cultivation. They are free from the ravages of time with immeasurable life, and truly live in their prime, till they realise enlightenment in good time, for all time!