If I Only Had 10 Years to Live

If you only had ten more years to live, would you do anything differently?

I very well might only have ten more years to live or even only ten more days. There is no expiration date printed on me anywhere. None of us really know when we will die, unless we take it upon ourselves to make that decision. All we know is that we will. Death is really the only certainty our lifeform is afforded.

One could look at this negatively. One could say, well, since I will die anyway, what’s the point? Some do and they choose to make that decision their own. I don’t have much respect for suicide except you have to hand it to those who succeed; they decided to be in control of their own death, which is more than the rest of us can say.

I don’t think death necessarily has to be a negative though. Some cultures view it as quite a positive thing; it means that you’ve moved onto something better. It doesn’t have to be a thing hanging over our heads that we dread and fret about. It’s inevitable. There’s no way to avoid it, so why worry about it? It’s like worrying about the sun burning out. The sun has a finite amount of fuel and when that’s exhausted, that’s the end for our little solar system. The sun will die just like we will. There’s nothing we can do to change it.

That’s not to say that we should just ignore it altogether. On the contrary, an acute sense of our own expiration should spur us on. Knowing that we only have so many hours, days and minutes forces us to make the most of each one. Sometimes we forget. Sometimes we get bogged down in the details of mundane life and forget that each of our days is monstrously amazing when you get down to it. When I have a rough day, I try to keep that in mind. I think about how astounding it is on a cosmic scale that I’m even here to have a rough day at all.

We evolved from pond ooze into the beings that we see around us. We evolved thumbs and the ability to use tools and fire. We evolved the ability to even consciously think about our own death. No other creature has such broad minded analytical thinking ability. You don’t see many lions committing suicide because they’re just tired of it all.

But with that power comes responsibility. Because we are able to consciously think about our own places in the universe, because we can choose to take our lives into our own hands, because we can even think about it, we should. Each of us, at some point in our lives, needs to figure out our own position on life, the universe and everything. It seems as though a lot of people are incapable or choose not to view the big picture. Though we are discrete individuals, humans as a whole, are not all that different from each other. All of our color, size, gender and sexual preferences come from a tiny percentage of differences in eukaryotic chromosomes. The bulk of our genetic structure is the same, that of Homo sapiens.

We are all the same, no matter how differently we view each other. We all are born, we grow and age, and the final reward for all this living that we manage to do is death. It doesn’t matter how much money you have, the end result is expiration. That seems fair to me.

I digress. The question is, if I only had ten more years to live, would I do anything differently?

No, I would not. I try to value every single day I exist. I try to do something. I try to scrawl my name in the sand as proof that I was here, as testimony to my existence. It may be hubris–most writing is, when you get down to it–but I’d like to leave something of me after I am gone. I write these silly answers and I’m trying to write a whole novel for National Novel Writing Month, as a semi-permanent monument to my brain, to my existence, to the strange predicament I find myself in, that of living.

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