There was this one time a friend of mine saw this girl playing pool at the bar. He fancied her look — all tatted up and shit. He was working up the courage to converse with her, but before he was able to finish building that courage up, she was gone. Two things could have happened if she had stayed longer:
1) She would have eventually left and my friend probably still wouldn’t have talked to her.
2) She would have stayed for a literal eternity in which case my friend would have taken her for granted and not talk to her.
Nothing natural is permanent.
Waves ebb and flow.
People come and go.
The only thing certain in this life is that nothing is permanent, including life itself. I think about my own death a lot because I try to internalize the fact that I’m not going to be on Earth a permanent amount of time so that I utilize my time here as fully as possible. Most people understand logically that they will die someday but don’t fully grasp the gravity of their reality ending in an untimely fashion. And I say untimely because most deaths are untimely. Young deaths are untimely. A beloved grandparent’s death is untimely. Unless one is suicidal, nobody has a goal of dying someday and yet it is something we’ll all need to do.
Of course, people don’t think about death that much because it is largely an unknown event. We only ever experience the death of others, but never really experience our own because, well, by the time you could, you’re dead. We also don’t think about death too much because the assumption is that it is just going to happen someday in the distant future. When in fact, I could hit you with a truck tomorrow and voila you are dead. We also don’t think about death much because all we’ve ever experienced is life. None of us have any recollection before our existence, and none of us will have any memory of our deaths.
We might not think about it often as well because assuming you don’t want to kill yourself, when you actually die is almost completely out of your control. Sure, you could exercise and prolong your quality of life. You could avoid smoking and drinking. You could do everything you can to increase the expectancy of your life, but ultimately you still won’t know exactly when your death is.
All we can control is what we do right at this moment. We all have certain obligations in our lives, and we all have free time (as if there was a gun held to our heads to go to work or something). But let’s take a closer look to exactly how much free time we have.
In a week:
There’s 168 hours.
Let’s say you work a 50 hour week.
Let’s say you sleep 8 hours a day.
You’ve got 168 – 50 – 56 = 62 hours of discretionary time every single week.
What do you use it for? Jack off? Check Facebook? Watch TV? There’s no reason, with 62 hours of free time each week why you can’t be a gangster pimp in whatever category of life or skill you wish to embark on.
We all have the same 24 hours in each day, and most of us have the same amount of free time each week. Why not utilize your free time to benefit you, instead of just flushing it down the drain by doing absolutely nothing? One of the things you could do with your free time is alluded to earlier: exercise. I heard in a talk at Stanford that one minute of moderate exercise (e.g. walking) increases your lifespan by about 5 minutes; one minute of intense exercise (e.g. cross country skiing) increases your lifespan by about 6-10 minutes. You could literally try to spend some of your free time to expand your lifespan so you could have more free time.
There are a plethora of other things you can do to live life fully in the 62 hours/week and living fully is completely subjective. It is completely up to you, and I am in no way endorsing a dichotomous lifestyle where it is 100% workaholic mode all the time. However, knowing time to be a very limited and finite resource, I hope you don’t spend too much time trying to figure out how you might be able to jerk yourself off with a doughnut while watching your favorite gangbang on PornHub.
Whatever shit you want to do, just start doing that shit now. Whether you want to get rich, help people, leave a legacy, or just make more friends, do that shit now.
“But why does trying even matter? After all, we’ll all be dead someday and when we die who cares what legacy we’ll leave behind? We could do nothing and still be dead. We could be The Greatest boxer of all time and still be dead. If we die by definition we won’t and can’t care.”
This is logically true. Given the hypothetical that if I were to die, the rest of the human race will die with me within an hour of my death, I would have zero reason to care. The extinction of the human race affects me in no way because I’m dead.
And while this is logically true, the question is: is it helpful to think like that? If the approach to life is purely a nihilistic one, then what kind of life will be led? If we take as truth that nothing really matters and we live our lives accordingly, what would that look like?
Would we all live an anarchic, hedonistic life? Would we just sit in our couch all day? Would we just commit suicide as soon as possible? The last 2 sounds like a boring life not worth living and kind of just sucks in general, but the former sounds intriguing to me. However, given the reality of modern society, a person who just rapes and murders repeatedly won’t live a free life for long anyway and so that life also seems kind of sucky given the expected time spent locked up in prison. A counterargument here is that one could just rape and murder until they get killed by the cops instead of taken into custody. Well, the first counter-counterargument is there’s almost no control of that. Even if you planned to suicide by cop, there’s no guarantee that you will die completely when they shoot you. The second counterargument is that your life would be short-lived and there might be a more optimal way to be hedonistic. That is, live life in a less risky way and therefore have prolonged, chronic hedonism as opposed to an acute dose of hedonism provided by say a rape-murder spree.
But the counter-counter-counterargument here is, who cares if we live 10 years or 1000 years? We’ll all have to die anyway, so why not just maximize the fun? But then in that case you could just commit suicide via a euphoric overdose, and have an extremely short hedonistic experience. But that sucks for the obvious, non-philosophical reason that you could have possibly lived much longer to experience more things (drugs) and it is sort of a waste to end life early for no real reason other than from the output of a philosophical argument.
“But then if we’re not going to use philosophical conclusions as the way to tell us how to live (or in this case, end) our lives, then why the fuck are you still droning on about this shit?!“
My argument is that philosophy is not dichotomous. I’d say philosophy is just a model — that is, it is a nice guiding light telling us where to go in our lives, but you can ignore where the light points whenever it stops making sense. That is, wherever the model breaks down, just discard it and let your own common sense guide you.
And common sense would include the earlier question I asked: is this helpful? Is it more helpful to think of life as meaningless and therefore die as quickly as possible, or more helpful to think of life as meaningless anyway so why not just try and live fully and have a nice, long adventure for as long as it’ll last? Which would make you feel better? Common sense would say the latter.
Temporally, we’re all approximately dead, and your conclusions about how to live life doesn’t matter at all in the grand scheme of things, so just think in a way that makes you feel better.