Over the last few days I’ve found myself having a lot of conversations about life and death. I thought it’d be a good idea to try and articulate some of my thoughts, so here’s my attempt at doing that.
A few million years ago, things became sentient. We’re still not entirely sure what that even means or if we really became sentient at all, but we’ve learned a lot in that time. We learned about our own needs, what we could eat, and what could eat us. We learned how to get along, make things and how life makes itself. We learned that we aren’t the center of everything after all, and that there’s an unfathomably big void for us to explore. We use big numbers to help explain all this, but in reality we’ll never really be able to understand because we’re only here for so long. And that’s at the core of all this: how long we have.
If you’re lucky enough to live 100 years, you have 5,200 weeks to do, basically, whatever you want. If you’re 25 now, you have 3,900 weeks left. If you’re 50, you only have 2,600 left. Of course, those 100 years aren’t guaranteed, and if we’re being honest, you and I might not get that long anyways. In the grand scheme of things, that isn’t much time at all. Once it’s all over, we like to hope there’s a part of us that lives on, but there’s no way to know for sure. In the same way none of us can remember the billions of years before us, we likely won’t remember the billions after. Eternity in the blink of an eye.
Though scary, there’s a certain freedom we can give ourselves in realizing that this might be the only time we get. Failing a test, losing a relationship or even knowing that the mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell doesn’t really matter in the long run. Humanity is, fundamentally, a speck of dust who’s lived for an instant. It seems almost cruel that we came far enough to look into the universe only to realize that this might not be our story after all.
Here’s the bright side: If there are no consequences in the long run, we get to choose what matters while we’re here. Your life is the only thing you get to experience, so you get to decide what to do with the time you have allotted to you. Here’s a request: spend it finding out and doing what’s important to you. Life’s too short otherwise.
As far as we can tell, the odds of you being born as you are one in over 400 trillion.1 To spend that time on anything other than things you think are important seems like a crime against the universe in itself.
So, we’re alone in an infinite sandbox. We don’t know why things are the way they are, and there’s certainly a lot more to be understood. So while we’re here, we might as well make the most of it. There are planets to visit, music to be listened to, diseases to cure, sunsets to watch, people to help, and time to be enjoyed.
Get out there.
Krulwich, Robert. “Are You Totally Improbable Or Totally Inevitable?”NPR, NPR, 21 Nov. 2011.