I'm dying ...

#1
If you're reading this, you're dying, too. It may take a year, ten years, twenty years, fifty years. But we all die. There is no escape. Even if someone creates an immortality potion, we are doomed to die billions of years in the future when the universe dies a heat death.

It's not something I've thought about a lot, but if Steve Jobs said recognizing his own mortality was one of his defining moments in life then, well, we are all mortal.

I'm quite confused about the fact that I'm dying. I am going to die. I accept that. After I die, there'll be very little to nothing left about me in the world. Once upon a time, I hoped to do something so great people will remember me even after I'm gone, but realistically, that will not happen. I'm not interested in marriage and having children too, which means I won't have any offspring to remember me or pass my genes on. I could accumulate a ton of money - a million dollars over the course of 30 years isn't that difficult, with thrifty spending and good investment - and then use it for charity causes or whatever and people will remember me after I die, but so what? Whoever I help with that money is going to die, too. Even the Earth is going to die when the Sun becomes a Red Giant, five billion years in the future. Nothing I do will have any consequence.

Do I fear death? I'm tempted to say no, although if death is staring me in the face I might change my mind. If I'm honest with myself, I'm more afraid of old age than of death. To be disabled, to be able to do nothing except lie on the bed, that's ... very saddening.

At this rate I might as well get myself involved in a war, go to Libya or Syria or something and get killed quickly. Die participating in something that actually has world-wide impact, and even though that still is as inconsequential as ever in the long run, at least I'll have done something.

Thoughts on your own mortality?
 
#3
I wouldn't be too concerned with leaving a legacy. After you are dead, it won't matter to you. You go to way, kill 10000 people before you die, get your name in the textbook, then your life is over. You didn't get to do much. Live live and try to use any time or money you've earned to enjoy it. This way you can hope to enjoy as many things in this world before you die.
 

v

protected by a silver spoon
is a Site Staff Alumnusis a Super Moderator Alumnusis a CAP Contributor Alumnusis a Tiering Contributor Alumnus
#4
are you like 14

WAH WAH WE'RE ALL GONNA DIE

I thought I was gonna die once. It's one thing to stand back and mope and say "oh no, someday I will die," it's another coming to grips with your own mortality. Your post sounds like an eighth grader discovering nihilism for the first time. It's very clear from your post that you have never genuinely had to question your own mortality.*

"There's no point to life, guess I'd better throw mine away!"

I can't imagine a dumber response. When it comes down to it, you will wish you had done more in life. Maybe not that you won the Nobel, but you will regret not skydiving or dropping acid or telling some chick you want to put your little nerd penis in her.

The moral of the story is, don't do things you don't like doing. You are better off just doing what feels right. If tomorrow you were diagnosed with cancer, what would you wish you had done? Go do that. Go do as much of that as you can. Because when the chips are really on the table, you'll wish you had. People remember bold, daring acts of greatness. No one remembers a mopey desk jockey.

Life's way too short to waste.
 
#6
Even if someone creates an immortality potion, we are doomed to die billions of years in the future when the universe dies a heat death.
Wait. The immortality potion does not make you immune to the consequences of heat death? Sounds like a lousy immortality potion to me?

Go out there and enjoy life, no matter how limited it appears to be.
 
#7
are you like 14

WAH WAH WE'RE ALL GONNA DIE

I thought I was gonna die once. It's one thing to stand back and mope and say "oh no, someday I will die," it's another coming to grips with your own mortality. Your post sounds like an eighth grader discovering nihilism for the first time. It's very clear from your post that you have never genuinely had to question your own mortality.*

"There's no point to life, guess I'd better throw mine away!"

I can't imagine a dumber response. When it comes down to it, you will wish you had done more in life. Maybe not that you won the Nobel, but you will regret not skydiving or dropping acid or telling some chick you want to put your little nerd penis in her.

The moral of the story is, don't do things you don't like doing. You are better off just doing what feels right. If tomorrow you were diagnosed with cancer, what would you wish you had done? Go do that. Go do as much of that as you can. Because when the chips are really on the table, you'll wish you had. People remember bold, daring acts of greatness. No one remembers a mopey desk jockey.

Life's way too short to waste.
I'm much older than 14.

The thing about dying in Libya or Syria or similar is that you die participating in something with historical significance. Living a very normal life elsewhere does not. Take a look at this. All those people are dead, but in death they've done more than 99.99% of the people in the world. Once, if offered the chance to become the greatest genius the world has ever seen or will ever see at the cost of losing all my friends past present and future, I would've accepted it. I probably still will today. If offered the chance to die for some trailblazing effort, I will - at least in the comfort of my chair right now - do it.

"Just imagine you will die tomorrow" is nice and all, but if I followed that advice I'd churn through my savings in a heartbeat and then who will put food on the table?

No, mortality isn't preventing me from doing anything. But it's stopping me from seeing purpose in many of the things in life. Right now my life is comfortable. My financial position is quite secure, I have most things I wish for (although I wish I had a million dollars, and I don't), in one perspective I'm happy. But from another perspective, my life is a complete and utter failure, and I could've done or be doing so much more to make it more colourful. I'm going to die, but if I die now, who will remember me?

@above - take my word for it when I say it won't. I have a background in physics, and by the second law of thermodynamics, all life must end when the universe is close to maximal disorder. You are a highly ordered being, but only because you consume food. You need energy. Almost everything on Earth gets its energy directly or indirectly from the Sun, but the Sun will not last forever. Eventually all the suns in the universe will burn out, and there will be no more life. Like it or not, you are mortal, and have no chance of escaping that fact.
 
#11
Ok, true, but so what? I don't have a problem with eventually dying and everything else dying, I mean, it sucks but there's no preventing it of course. The only thing that scares me is the act of dying (like realizing I'm dying). You really never stop living, though. Your body decomposes and becomes fuel for plants and so on and so forth, or if you're religious then you go on to the afterlife.
Anyways, I don't care if I leave a legacy or whatever, I'm just concerned with being happy and making those around me happy and trying to make the best of life.
 

Nosferalto

We're all gonna make it
is a Team Rater Alumnus
#12
Kinda depressing that what we do in life doesn't matter at all since we'll all die anyway.
Everybody now knows my fucked up view of life.
 
#17
The thing about dying in Libya or Syria or similar is that you die participating in something with historical significance. Living a very normal life elsewhere does not.
Given that Facebook and other social media were enablers for the Arab Spring, I would say that the average programmer at Facebook has about as much influence on the course of things as you would if you were to go put your life on the line over there.

I won't deny that "dying for the cause" is glamorous, but it doesn't mean jack shit. The vast majority of people who put their lives on the line in conflicts are disposable, and the qualities of generals and leaders (who usually shield themselves from danger) are much more relevant than that of soldiers.

Take a look at this. All those people are dead, but in death they've done more than 99.99% of the people in the world.
You could say the same about the smaller group of Nobel laureates, whose work did not imply a risk of death (save for radiation poisoning). These people did more than 99.99% of the people in the world because they had the relevant competences and courage to perform critical operations, not because they died.

My point is, somebody has an impact (good or bad) in proportion of how different (better or worse) the world would be without them. As it turns out, the impact of any given individual is extremely limited. The presence of absence of any given soldier will rarely make any difference, regardless of what they do, because they can only cover a limited part of the battlefield. The general planning out the operations is always the person with the most impact. Science and technology is always very incremental and a lot of discoveries are done independently by several people, because they just the next logical step at that point. We can't say that without Einstein relativity would not have been discovered: for one, the math was already there, and somebody else would have had the same insight eventually.

That might not be obvious at first glance, but if you want to maximize your *personal* impact on the world, Art (literature, film, architecture, painting, etc.) is probably your best bet. Philosophy is always reinvented, science and technology follow their own incremental pace, the effects of any war are undone by the next, the effects of any politicians are undone by the next, and so forth. Art is pretty much the only thing that a single man or woman can do and yet can endure for ages, as long as crazy people don't destroy it for petty reasons (which, sadly, they often do). It's a piece of their mind and an embodiment of their culture at the same time, that people can still enjoy millennia later. It sure won't survive the heat death of the universe but goddamn you are looking way too far in the future.

No, mortality isn't preventing me from doing anything. But it's stopping me from seeing purpose in many of the things in life. Right now my life is comfortable. My financial position is quite secure, I have most things I wish for (although I wish I had a million dollars, and I don't), in one perspective I'm happy. But from another perspective, my life is a complete and utter failure, and I could've done or be doing so much more to make it more colourful. I'm going to die, but if I die now, who will remember me?
I think you are putting too great emphasis on legacy, and unless you are 70, you are not dying anytime soon, so you have plenty of time to be happy about your life.

So here goes:

If you want to have an impact for eternity or for billions of years, you're insane. Get your shit together and lower your goddamn standards.

If you want to have an impact for millenia, you will need to write or build something truly epic and groundbreaking and then cross your fingers for somebody to notice. That's unbelievably difficult, partly out of your control, and competition is at an all-time high. You can also become a mad emperor and command batshit insane funerary buildings for yourself (pyramids or terracotta armies). I'll let you think about how difficult that is, and ponder how much of a hindrance to progress that also is.

If you want to have an impact for decades, that's not too unreasonable, but the most important thing is to get noticed. You'll need either great talent, great luck, or great people skill to stand out from the lot.

I think you are seeing the pattern here: making an impact on society is fucking hard. Take any given length of time, multiply it by a thousand, take the inverse, and you'll get the fraction of people whose impact will last that long, and the worst thing of all is that these people's impact was partly due to luck. The direct consequence of this is that if you care about impact or being remembered, you are doomed to be miserable, not only because you won't succeed, but especially because even if you do, you won't know it before you're dead (especially true of painters).

Now, consider what you could care about instead:

Knowledge! Trying to figure out how the world works, contribute a tiny bit to science and mathematics, and have the satisfaction of finding the solution to problems. Take any non-trivial unsolved problem. There are millions of these, and thousands that many people care about. Now solve it. Chances are, that was difficult. Chances are, some people will look at your solution and tell you "nice! I didn't think about doing it that way!". That feels great! A good 5% of the population has the ability to do this.

Expression! Putting your ideas and feelings into words, into colors on canvas, into indie movies, into webcomics, into improvisation groups, into renovating and decorating your own home, into a garden. At least half of all people on the planet can do really cool stuff if they try. Expressing yourself is as easy as it has ever been. Fucking anybody can get thousands of hits on YouTube if they TRY. And it is FUN. I can't believe you can't find at least one thing you'd have fun doing that would leave you with the happy feeling of accomplishment. I know people who are mediocre at writing, but they still write, and they like to write, and it validates their existence, and you know what? They get better! Heck, right now, we live in a truly blessed period, where anyone can put anything on the Net and have it automatically saved and archived on countless computers. Maybe in a thousand years, somebody will browse the Internet Archive on their HyperMac and will stumble across what you did, and they'll get some amusement out of it. That sure as hell won't happen if you don't do anything, and you are in the unique position to DO something, RIGHT NOW, within DAYS of reading this post. Your ancestors did not have this luck.

Just plain fun! read books, watch movies, play sports, travel all around the world, you know, just enjoy life. ANYBODY can do this. It doesn't take a lot of money to enjoy life, and if you don't have the time to enjoy life, you're doing something seriously wrong.

I'm sorry for the tl;dr, but seriously, stop caring about legacy or impact. There are so many ways to be happy without caring about legacy that it would be a shame to have a miserable life just because you have the wrong priorities. In particular, if you truly care about knowledge and expression for their own sake, you will have a greater impact than if you only care about what you'll leave to the world. Legacy is always incidental. It's almost never something you plan, because planning legacy will leave you second thinking everything you do, and then you will do nothing at all.

@above - take my word for it when I say it won't. I have a background in physics, and by the second law of thermodynamics, all life must end when the universe is close to maximal disorder. You are a highly ordered being, but only because you consume food. You need energy. Almost everything on Earth gets its energy directly or indirectly from the Sun, but the Sun will not last forever. Eventually all the suns in the universe will burn out, and there will be no more life. Like it or not, you are mortal, and have no chance of escaping that fact.
Reversible computing is a potential escape route from the second law of thermodynamics, though it seems nigh impossible to implement in practice (basically, if every single computation you make is reversible, it is unknown if there is any physical limit to how little energy you can consume, and it could actually be as little as zero; all we know is that it's not doable with irreversible computation). In any case, it is theoretically possible to survive for a long ass time, and I can't say I give a shit if I'm going to die a billion years from now. That would just be wayyy too far away for me to care yet.
 
#18
Looking at the your followup post and Brain's response, as well as some of your other posts, I think that you're just having a problem with putting things into perspective and being trapped in preconceived notions of what constitutes importance.

OK, so your life, and the life of all human civilization really, is meaningless relative to the universe's time scale or even to the earth's time scale. A time interval of a few millenia is unfathomably shorter than the kind of "periods" that geologists tend to use to describe the earth's life. If all humans are wiped out at some point, the earth will quickly move on, and in a few millenia there will be barely any evidence that we existed. You talk about these things, and yet in the same post you consider dying to contribute a fraction for the cause of something that will last a fraction of the life of humanity, itself a fraction of the life of the earth. Your perspective on importance is self-contradictory.

Construed in the right way, nothing that anyone does matters. Even a "legacy" is completely meaningless, as you won't even be around to enjoy it. This means that the only thing that can objectively matter is what you want to matter, and reality is (to an extent) what you want it to be. Go live your eternity and forget that a finite number can be attached to it, because like I said before, it's ultimately an illusion.
 
#21
Like the Dropkick Murphys, my only hope is to go out in style...


Going Out In Style by Dropkick Murphys

I've seen a lot of sights and traveled many miles
Shook a thousand hands and seen my share of smiles
I've caused some great concern and told one too many lies
And now I see the world through these sad, old, jaded eyes

So what if I threw a party and all my friends were there?
Acquaintances, relatives, the girls who never cared
You'll have a host of rowdy hooligans in a big line out the door
Side by side with Sister Barbara, Chief Wells and Bobby Orr
I'd invite the Flannigans
Replace the window you smashed out
I'd apologize the Sluggo for pissing on his couch
I'll see Mrs. McAuliffe and so many others soon
Then I'll say I'm sorry for what I did sleepwalking in her room

So what if I threw a party and invited Mayor Menino?
He'd tell you to get a permit
Well this time, Tom, I don't think so
It's a neighborhood reunion
But now we'd get along
Van Morrison would be there and he'd sing me one last song
With a backup band of bass players to keep us up all night
Three handsome four string troubadours
And Newton's own Fat Mike
I'll be in the can having a smoke with Garv and Johnny Fitz
But there's a back up in the bathroom
Cause the Badger's got the shits

Chorus:
You may bury me with an enemy in Mount Calvary
You can stack me on a pyre and soak me down with whiskey
Roast me to a blackened crisp and throw me in a pile
I could really give a shit - I'm going out in style
You can take my urn to Fenway spread my ashes all about
Or you can bring me down to Wolly Beach
And dump the sucker out
Burn me to a rotten crisp and toast me for a while
I could really give a shit - I'm going out in style

Make me up dress me up
Feed me a big old shot
Of embalming fluid highballs
So I don't start to rot
Now take me to McGreevy's
I wanna buy one final round
That cheap prick would peel an orange in his pocket
Then hurry up and suck 'em down

If there's a god the girls you loved
Will all come walking through the door
Maybe they'll feeld bad for me and this stiff will finally score
You've got the bed already
And the nerve and courage too
Cause I've be slugging from
A stash of Desi Queally's 1980s Bathtub brew

You may bury me with an enemy in Mount Calvary
You can stack me on a pyre and soak me down with whiskey
Roast me to a blackened crisp and throw me in a pile
I could really give a shit - I'm going out in style
You can take my urn to Fenway spread my ashes all about
Or you can bring me down to Wolly Beach
And dump the sucker out
Burn me to a rotten crisp and toast me for a while
I could really give a shit - I'm going out in style!

Spread my ashes all about
Dump the sucker out
Toast me for a while
I'm going out in style
 
#23
Haha you believe in global warming.

By the way, if you have ever actually thought about it in depth, you should realize that being immortal in this world would be the worst torture in existence.

I think we can sum up why this is a silly thread with "The Journey is more important than the Destination".
But I believe that "the ends justify the means" so wouldn't that conflict entirely?