Last night the thought came to me that in about 40 years I will be dead. After that I won’t be coming back. I’ll be nowhere. A long time elapsed between the birth of the universe and my own birth. My consciousness constitutes a tiny flash of light in a virtual eternity of total darkness, a darkness that stretches back into the past and forward into the future.
And last night I thought about what I would, or should, do if I only had a few more hours to live. I certainly wouldn’t spend them reading a book, being on the internet or watching television. If I was on my own I think I would just sit and think. I would think about the loose ends I should tie up before I die and I would probably think about what I should have done in the past, but didn’t. I would almost certainly call friends and family members to say goodbye (but I wouldn’t spend too much on an international phone call. Even in death, there’s no point in wasting money!).
Also in the short time left to me I would think about what it feels like to be alive. Knowing that I would soon be dead forever would make me want to dwell on what life feels like.
And what is true of the last hours of life is also partly true of the rest of my life. I may live to be 100, but then again I might not even make it to the end of this sentence. Yet even the most hopeful estimate seems very short indeed when compared to the vast expanses of non-existence that stretch away either side of my life.
If thinking about what it feels like to be alive is important enough for me to want to spend my final hours doing it then maybe perhaps I should also do it now while I can still gain some insight into whatever I discover. And even if the end doesn’t come soon, time spent appreciating the fact that I’m alive might be time better spent than, say, reading another book, watching another TV program or being on the internet for the umpteenth time.