Zim (chezzim) wrote in armchair,

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The Big Questions -- Chapter 1: Philosophical Questions

p. 33 Opening Questions

2. If you had only a few minutes to live, what would you do with them? What if you had only a few days? Twenty years?

Ideally, pretty much the same things I am doing now.

If I had just a few minutes, I wouldn't have sex, but I might choose to "cuddle" or "snuggle" -- something I regularly do, but which might seam especially appropriate. Likewise, I might have a good red wine. Perhaps a really good cup of coffee at a café while watching people walk by on the street. Maybe just a good dark beer. But right this moment, if I were here at home, I would walk up the street to the park and feed the ducks and swans some bread.

A few minutes isn't really all that long, so it would only make a difference in the particular activity (from among regularly performed activities) that I would do right then.

Dosteyovsky writes of a condemned man just before his execution, and how everything -- the tastes, the colors, the textures, the faces of people, the path -- is so much more intense to the man because he knows that each will be his very last experiences.

A few days wouldn't make much of a difference except it might be easy to sit on a pity pot and not get off. Likewise, if there were something I had been wanting to do but just not gotten around to doing, I might do it. Were I in Texas, I would visit the Caverns of Sonora -- in them I had my first experience of life really having some import beyond just facts or cause and effect. I would probably find my self seeking out quite places, the "thin" places where the transcendent seems a bit more present -- or at least easily touched.

I don't think I would make a big deal of saying good-bye. In fact, that would probably detract from the days for me. But I would spend some of the time making sure that any money I had would end up where I wanted it to. Some of the time I would want to spend around friends... but not lots of it.

And related to the previous question, I would probably want to do more of those things where I think I might actually make a difference or change peoples perspectives. Realistically I might want to post lots to a couple of lists I regularly participate in.

If I had twenty years, I doubt that it would make any difference right now as to how I would live... but as the time got closer it might.

As I think about this portion of the question, I wonder how many of our decisions are based on the expectations of the needs of old age. For example, if I knew I would live exactly twenty years longer, it would make a big difference in my retirement plan, in how much I saved for the future and how much I had available to use now. Also, it brings up the question of whether I would want to work right up to the end, or have some non-work time also. Likewise, how many of our decisions are made on where we want to be in 30 or 40 or 50 years.

I'm not sure if I would want to have kids. Dan and I have talked about adopting and other alternatives, but if I knew I had 20 years, those calculations would have to be redone.

Are there things I wouldn't put up with simply because they would seem like a waste of a finite and known amount of time? or would I be more accepting of these things? I just don't know.

Related: At some level, the deeper question seems to be, What impact does my mortality have on how I lead my life?
Also: Should I live my life as if every moment were my last? Why, or why not?
Finally, if I knew the hour (date, time) of my death, how would that change how I lived?
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