Tuesday, November 27, 2007

If I died?

Here is a fascinating, and discussion encouring, note (via Facebook) from Lindsay, a friend of mine:

[Are you afraid of dying?]

Are you? It's an interesting concept. All of my friends here on Facebook are very young, so it would be common to hear that death is scary.

I can't really decide.

The standard response would be that I'm really afraid because I haven't accomplished much in my life. I haven't graduated from college or gotten a job, built a family, or raised children. I don't feel like I've contributed to society, to humanity.

But then if I did die today, I think that the most important question to me would be asking if I told everyone I cared about that I loved them. Maybe that is enough.

I had a very depressing thought: I'm insignificant. It's not like if people didn't have me in their life to begin with that they would feel some void, like, "What is missing in my life?" and if they had only known me, that void would be filled. Of course I know that there are people who know me now that would miss me if I was gone, that I have impacted them in some way or another. If I died, there would be people who would be sad. It's not like they couldn't get over it and move on with their lives. Aside from my parents and brother, I want to know that I've impacted someone, at least one person, in my life that if I died today or tomorrow that they wouldn't forget me. They could go on in their life, of course being happy, and think about me often and smile. I want someone to have learned from me the way that I learned from them. I don't want to be forgotten.

Here are the first questions I had to offer:

This gets to a central question - perhaps the central question: what is the meaning of life? I suppose that to die, satisified, means that one has fulfilled the meaning of life. So what is that meaning?Many people have argued - persuasively - that the meaning of life is to leave the world better than it was when you arrived, or, perhaps to seek some clarity and speficity, to say, that the meaning of life is to have a positive impact. But how positive of an impact? And how would you ever measure such an impact? I would argue that is difficult, if not impossible, to make such a measurement but in the most extraordinary of cases, i.e., John Steinbeck, GW Bush, ML King, Hitler. Most of us just don't have the knowledge to make such determinations.

What's the meaning of life, again? I would propose this - not as the answer, but rather as a place to begin discussion: if you died, would you reasonably believe that you made a serious effort to exert a force for good upon those with whom you carried influence? Did you endlessly bitch, moan, and whine, and nothing else? Or did you endlessly bitch, moan, and whine, and try and make something better of it? Did you let your eyes gloss over with contentment to how well you've got it? Or did you let your eyes gloss over with contentment and try and make better of it?This is heavy shit. Worthy - indeed, demanding - of deep contemplation. What does death mean? What does life mean? How do we measure our success in either? Thanks for raising the question, and here's to hoping that the discussion is substantial. (Emphasis is both in original and mine, ha.)

Can you tell I was angling for a blog post?

1 comment:

Lacey said...

Death used to scare me quite a bit, but ever since my grandmother passed away, I'm hardly scared of it anymore. I think mostly because I believe that she's in a better place, and that when I die, I'll also be in that place with her. I've always found comfort in my faith in religion that I'll be in a better place with God/Jesus, but it was hard to really grasp that until my g-ma passed away.

As to your question, "would you reasonably believe that you made a serious effort to exert a force for good upon those with whom you carried influence?"--No. I mean, sure I'm an optimistic person, practically always smiling and what-not, and I'm always trying to lend a hand where I can, but I don't think I've impacted anyone's life in a way that would make a genuine difference. John McGavren might argue that one, but he's the only person I could think of that I MIGHT have affected in some positive way that actually affected or changed his life. I guess for me personally, the meaning of my life is to help people, but not necessarily in a life-changing way (for them). I don't think the point of my life is to leave anything behind, or even to have people think of me after I've passed away, because I don't think that would happen. Therefore, I probably won't feel I've lived my life fully until I get to that point where I think to myself, "Ok, I think I've helped all the people I could ever help", and as that probably would never happen, I'll always feel that I could have done more in life. But if I died tonight, I'd be ok with that, because I know there's more than this life, and I know that once I die, there's nothing I could do to reverse it. So when death takes me, death takes me, and I'm ok with that. I'll wish I would have had more time to spend on Earth, but other than that, I think I'd truly be ok with dying. Sorry for the rambling, but lack of sleep was starting to affect me when I wrote this. :)