Would You Want To Live Forever?

Like most people, I have a pretty strong survival instinct. But while I don’t want to die, I’m not sure that I want to live forever.

The Case For

Sure, living forever seems pretty attractive at first glance. You won’t, you know, die. Dying is often painful, unexpected, or otherwise unpleasant. If it can be avoided, so much the better.

Moreover, grief is a powerful, and often, devastating emotion. We have all experienced loss, and if you could live forever, you could spare your family and friends going through the grief they would feel at your passing.

Then, you’d never miss out on anything. Whatever amazing discoveries, whatever triumphs, whatever joys that await in the future, you would get to experience. First humans on Mars? Curing cancer? Your great-great-great grandchild getting married? Check, check, check.

The Case Against

All that sounds great, but there are significant downsides.

If you were the only immortal, then you would see everyone you love grow old and die, again and again and again.

But if somehow you could live forever, maybe everyone could. Maybe it is a scientific breakthrough. But in that case, there would be a serious resource problem.

Our planet currently supports more than seven billion people. Even at that number, we are threatening the future of our species and the entire eco-sphere. If none of those seven billion plus died, and babies continued to be born, we’d quickly run out of resources to sustain ourselves.

But maybe we colonize galaxy. We spread out among the stars, and find other planets with other resources. We make better use of the plentiful solar energy throughout the galaxy and the universe. Are there any other drawbacks to immortality?

Things have value to us because of scarcity. The gold standard works because gold is rare. Rainy days make sunny days better. Grief gives added meaning to joy.

If you lived forever, it is possible that life, as we know it, would lose meaning. It is our transitory time on this earth that gives our time here value. Our life matters precisely because we don’t live forever.

Or is that just a justification, designed to make us feel better about our inevitable end?

Would you want to live forever? Or is acceptable that our lives come to an end eventually?

Related questions: Why are people afraid of death? What do you want to do before you die? Past, present, or future? How can we appreciate life more?

Should We Be Concerned With Legacy?

When thinking about your life, is it valuable to think about your legacy? That is, should it matter what you leave behind you after you die?

In life, there is an advantage to having people think well of you. It can help attract good, thoughtful, productive people to you. It can help remove obstacles. Overall, it can make your life easier and more pleasant.

However, that advantage would seem to disappear after you die. How your memory lives on doesn’t confer any direct advantage.  There may be some indirect value to your family and loved ones, but that gets harder and harder to quantify as time goes on.

That approach is largely transactional, however. Is there a strictly moral component? Is it important that you are remembered as a good person after you die? If so, how much of your time and resources while alive should be devoted to trying to secure a legacy of some sort?

After all, we all have a limited amount of time and energy in our lives. How does the priority of establishing a legacy place against other earthly concerns? Like food and shelter, or accrual of wealth or status, or feeling contented or fulfilled? Or does how you go about fulfilling your daily needs become part of your legacy?

Is the idea one of the first things you abandon when faced with tough choices about life? To put it another way, is thinking about a legacy a luxury that only the upper class get to consider?

Do you think about how your name will outlive you? Do you take steps in your daily life to alter that? Should we be concerned with legacy? What kind of legacy do you want to leave behind?

Related questions: What gives a person value? Why do we care what strangers think of us? How do you think others see you? What gives you purpose? What are you doing to make the world a better place?

How Do You Deal With Loss?

No matter the color of your skin, your socioeconomic background, or the country of your birth, one of the things we all have in common is loss. At some point, we all will have to struggle with grief over the loss of a friend or loved one.

Typically, you might experience the death of an elderly family member, like a grandparent or a great-grandparent. As you age, and the people you know also age, death becomes more frequent. There may also be an unexpected death from someone who dies earlier than expected.

Eventually, if you get old enough, loss may seem like a nearly-everyday occurrence.

The way that loss is dealt with varies by the individual. There are the publicized five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. But there are other ways to feel grief, and the order and severity of symptoms of loss can vary drastically from person to person.

Loss is not something that typically has any sort of formal training or instruction. And yet it is something that each one of has to learn to deal with. We each will feel the sting of family members, friends, pets, neighbors, spouses, and sometimes even children.

Processing your feelings can lead to a healthier psyche, and a more fully-lived life.

How do you deal with loss?

Related questions: Is happiness the most important purpose of life? What do we have in common? Why are people afraid of death? How can we turn sadness into constructive action?