The Burial

Do not consider the version of you, that you are today, to be the best version of you that there ever will be. This presupposes arrogance, or a reluctance to learn, to improve. Stagnant and immovable, unlike anything else in this flowing universe. Which is a sign of the ignorant, and the boring. The version of you, that you are now, is not some post-best version of you. Even if you’ve been through times of greatness, or succession of success, and that comes to an end, do not then assume that something new will not come along again, or that you’ve played your part and can wait by the sidelines until the curtain closes. There is no stopping, there is no end, simply a change in the game, or in the rules that you play by. This feeling of lost, or ending, is a feeling we often get at the end of a long venture, such as a business venture, or maybe even the end of a period of formal education, such as school or university.

It’s at times like this we must most remember; the road is a long and arduous one – with friends and people you’ll meet at the start, while others you’ll meet at the end. Some will stay with you throughout, and some will part somewhere along the way. Some will carry you for a portion of time, as your feet tire against the persistent gravel, and there are others you will carry for some time too. If you’re lucky, you’ll smile and laugh as you carry or be carried, in the form of a piggy back. Sometimes it’s more that you are carried or that you carry, by the back and by the back of the knee, as you rest against their chest, or as they rest against yours.

Sometimes eyelids will be closed, shielding tender eyes from the searing light of the sun, or the unforgiving reminder of the vastness of the universe in the form of twinkling stars. Sometimes they will remain closed for longer than they should, for fear of all that  they’ll see. Or if you’re feeling lonely; for fear of whom you will not see, around you, when you need them most. Those whom your crave, to keep you warm amidst frosty nights.

Sometimes you will smile; and lie. Inside you curl up your toes underneath your bottom, and hold on tight to your shins as you fear the coming storm, in whatever form it chooses to manifest itself – and yet your outward projection is one of confidence, a frame that can withstand all the weather that can be thrown at it. When in reality, you are as sturdy, as Autumn leaves.

This is known as bravery, being the only one that knows that you are afraid.

But never let it be forgotten, that you do not have to be brave, to be good. You can be honest. You can be kind. And after you have been consumed by whatever life has become for you, and thrown at you, you must remember you can revive yourself or be revived with the support of others, and you can be brave again. Even if only a time, until you cannot be brave any longer. We are what we do consistently; not what we have done once before. Greatness therefore, is a habit. Not an achievement.

So you have not been great, and guided; and now you are lost, and mediocre. The road is simply not without its speed bumps. Its speed limits. It matters not that you slow, just that you do not stop. You are great, and you will be great, because of what you continually strive to do. It is okay to fail. It is not okay, not to try.

Do not long for a version of you that has passed. Rather, ensure their return, and eventually safeguard that they are improved upon, and no longer the standard by which your own personal greatness is based upon. Ensure the return is relentless, and without mercy. If the world is a fire, ensure you are a storm. Whatever life throws at you, as unrelenting as it is, remember that you are unyielding, and more ferocious than it can ever hope to be.

Do not find yourself giving up early, due to wearing parts and exhaustion; suppressing your dreams and ambitions off to one-side and pretending that you can gleeful accepted mediocrity, when in fact you have merely given into it. For all you will accomplish, is not realism – but an early death. One where you die, at twenty five – and are buried much later in life.

There is no point in giving in. There is no emergency exit. For not even the end of the road, can be the end. There has never been an end. Only a change of the game, or the rules by which you play.

Is God The Answer, For You?

The question often seems as though it is; does God exist?

With relative certainty you’ve probably discussed this at some point in your life; whether as an inquisitive child and left it at that, or more likely as a curious adult seeking answers as you grow up.

God can offer guidance in times of great difficulty, and arguably most importantly can comfort a lost soul in times of great loneliness, by making them feel not so truly alone. Like they are being looked after. Like they will be looked after when their days are done.

And yet, despite the positivity that the knowledge of a God can bring into your life; still there are men and women who do not believe in the existence of a God and their omnipotence. Still there are those who refuse his or hers guidance, and the wisdom they impart through their disciples and prophets.

Why? Why would you not choose to believe in a God who’s purpose is to ensure our well being through their divine intervention and grand plan?

Well – the answers to that it seems may come in multiple parts.

Omnipotence to many; is actually to a deity’s detriment. If one were to describe God as entirely in control; of every wave on all the oceans and of every wind within all of the airs on Earth – then surely that means nothing at all. In the same way if everyone is beautiful; then there would be no need for the word, because there would be no word for ugly, so there would be no requirement for the word for beautiful. If God is entirely in control of what will happen, then this is as useful to the average man or woman as saying God is in control of nothing. Either way, it offers no sustenance, no tangible answers. If God’s will is carried out, regardless of a Faith in them or not, regardless of a worship of them or not – then what is the point? In fact, what then is the purpose of humanity? To revel in the splendour they have bestowed upon us, but at the price of their glorification? To marvel in the wonders of the universe, but with the condition we are born of sin, and owe a higher power much more than we could ever give them? Why are we born of sin, if we were not there to make the choice to be conceived at all?

It seems then, the answer that a God is in control, offers little to us, as a consciousness.

Moreover, perhaps the answer “God is all knowing.” is not a satisfying one. Not in the sense that it is a difficult to swallow answer, but more that again, this means nothing to the “I”. If God is all knowing, yet our communication with them is entirely one-way in the form of thoughts and prayers, then what knowledge does this impart on us? If I need to have my plumbing fixed, the answer, “The plumber down the street knows how to fix that.” does not actually fix my plumbing. I would still require their knowledge to be put into practice, or have the knowledge myself in order to alleviate my circumstances from me. Surely then I should be able to call the plumber and have them respond? Otherwise I would become frustrated, and choose another plumber? Perhaps this applies to a God. Even maybe the choice of which God, also?

So God being in possession of all knowledge, again does not benefit anyone or anything in the universe, other than he or she of grand power who has decreed it to be so.

What’s more, if God is the creator of all things; the origin of the Universe – then surely this only begs further questioning. If God is the creator our universe and all things; “Why?” and “What Came Before That?”, are the only logical follow up responses to the original question.

Science is in an ever pursuit. There is no comfort to be found, that science will ever be complete, and than any one of us can understand it to the fullest extent. The notion that Science will one day finish, and solidify, seems rather foolish indeed, because science understands the notion of change; of a flowing river and how it transitions to that state. It understands that the universe is always changing. It’s stated in the common phrase, “Nothing is ever created or destroyed; only converted.” such as energy from electrical to light, with some heat and sound too. What this would effectively mean, is that while Science can define and categorise events that have happened based on past experiences, it can only help us to further predict future experiences. It is a fairly accurate prediction based on what HAS happened, that the thing WILL happen again. Which is the same as taking some comfort that because God protected us at some point (based on a belief) that they WILL protect us again (based on a Faith), and everything will be okay. At least Religion can offer some finite answer, rather than pose an indefinite number of further questions, which Science seems to and in fact relishes upon.

While the two, Science and Religion, seem as though they are distinct and polar opposites, they share remarkable similarity. The main similarity being, that they are both a pursuit for answers, for knowledge, and comfort. The key difference being that Religion is satisfied with the answer, that a deity, or a higher power has the answers, and with Faith we can assume they have it taken care of with a knowledge we do not possess, and with information we cannot comprehend. Science however, is not so satisfied. If science were to remain humble (which it always has been), and understand that it does not have all the answers and that something else does, it would mutter under its breath, “yet.” As in, “we do not have the answers we seek… yet.” And it does so in the understanding that once those questions have been answered, this will in turn only lead to further questions. Nut this is okay. This is progress; this is a desire for growth and for change, which the universe as we can observe it, is an example of. Science then, is surely an alignment with the universe, and a desire to understand the self; rather than where Religion sees humans as an inhabitant of the universe, placed there by some divine intervention, to be watched over and governed.

It seems then that Science and Religion are both about unification, but Science unify’s with the universe, and Religion unify’s with a God, whom happens to operate the universe in which they have allowed us to inhabit.

Science and Religion are both about Faith. Religion is a Faith in how their divine entity will govern the universe, and ultimately a Faith that they will do right by humanity. Whereas Science is a Faith that previously confirmed theories and experiments backed up by replicated evidence will continue to be replicatable. When in fact they could change on a dime, and all could be disproven, as the laws of Science readily admit.

As an addition; generally those who’s Faith relies on Science believe that it is the self who governs their own experience of the universe. For if a God is in charge of that, why would he or she allow such evil and iniquity in the world. It’s a common argument, that no doubt the religious will be sick to death of hearing, because they are sick to death of replying, “It is God’s will.” or “Have Faith in God.” or “It is all part of God’s plan.”

But it must be understood, that surely one of a reasonable kind and loving nature, would not want to worship a deity, who believes the soul purpose of a life is to experience anguish, pain, agony, and unkindness. If the plan is that someone must experience this, in order that another would not have to, then surely this is a bad plan. And surely one who would come up with such plan, should not be worshipped.

If a religious person were then to suggest, “No, all you must do is pray for God’s intervention, and they may choose to listen, and alter their plan according.”

To which it would be reasonable to say then, that there could not be some grand plan set in stone, which must mean it is changing and so therefore provides evidence that Science is perhaps more accurate. Additionally, why is the divine allowed to choose when to listen?

But finally… Surely thoughts and prayers do not work, because measurably they had not for the thousands of years humanity had been around. For hundreds of years that we can measure in literature, we prayed for plagues not to kill us, and yet they did. Our prayers went unanswered then, so why would he listen to your prayer for a new car? Or to pass a school exam? Is your exam more important than a life? Again if a God were to say yes, surely you would not want to worship that person, who may allow your significant other to die of some horrible illness or experience, because thousands of miles away another person needs a new car which they had prayed for so persistently

Thoughts and prayers do nothing; Science, measurably, does.

Pen

In the above image, you see our population increase exponentially thanks to the advancement of Science. As evidence of this, Penicillin was discovered in 1928. It’s mass production began in the early 1940s.

To believe and take comfort in Religion it seems, is perfectly the choice of the self. To believe in Science is equally so.

Religion can offer its answers in Faith of a higher power; by which knowledge and answers lie in the deity, and you can take comfort from that and their decisions they make surrounding that. Science offers its answers in Faith too, but in replicatable, measurable experimentation that allows humanity to assume the universe will continue to operate in such a way. It seems the prize of Science is answers and knowledge contained within the self, but at the price of comfort. Because ultimately we do not know all the answers or knowledge and perhaps never will. What’s more, is we must have Faith that as a society, some possess knowledge others will/do not, and that they too must use that knowledge appropriately for the collective good.

You may find this article provided no answers; but perhaps you were looking at it the wrong way. The question it was answering, was not whether Science was correct, or Religion was; instead it looked to at least partially answer, “Is God The Answer, For You?”. This assumes you must understand both sides, at least a little, to make that decision.

Whatever path you decide to choose; regardless of whether you stick to that path or not; be kind to others.

Remember; that while they are of different perspectives, and provide different answers, it is up to you which combination of which you choose to accept. You can discern your own perspective. They are not mutually exclusive, and you need not commit to both in their totality. No one does. It is up to the self; to make the sovereign choice.

And even if you don’t like the choice that another made, at least understand it.
And accept that it was their choice to make.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Definition – A study of “Now”

It would be a presumptuous yet fair statement, to say that we all have a preconceived notion of what we want from our time in this life that we perceive as ours. An idea of what it would take for us to reach the plenum of existence, and consider ourselves “fulfilled”.

And yet, if you were to stop for a moment; put a pause of your life as best you could, and write a list of exactly what it is that you want from your time on this Earth, and make a conviction and a promise not to change that, you would run into two distinct problems.

One: while it is perfectly easy to suggest you pause your life, you obviously and unfortunately cannot. If you were to take your time and write this list, with the intention of completing it in totality and never changing it, you would encounter a problem based on an assumption you would have had to have made, in order to even begin writing the list. The assumption would have been that you, unlike everything else in the universe; are static. An assumption that while your body grows old and tires, YOU are always YOU.

When in reality, YOU are changing all the time. You are not some steadfast rock grounded into foundation which a river works around, rather you are part of its water. It just becomes difficult to define the water part, in the same way you can point to the whole river and say “water”, or pick out a single molecule and say “this too is water”.

It’s a result of a struggle to separate the “I” of the mind and the “I” of the body. Assuming they are not one thing, because one part thinks, and the other part is physical matter. We forget the physical matter provides the means by which the conscious thinks, and can therefore perceive the physical part.

The two are cyclical; perfectly chicken and egg. And the two are changing at every second of the day as you flow from one moment to the next. A great example of how ever fluctuating both your mind and body are; is you may have a memory of a time you were brave, and so you could define yourself as courageous – that you put your body in harms way to save another in some form. And yet, you will probably also remember a time when you were cowardly. When you stood and watched a bully, rather than intervene, for fear of reprocusion. So are you brave, or are you cowardly?

Or were you simply brave in one moment, and cowardly in another?

But while you think of that; you will come to:

The second of the two problems: you can write down the words, “I want to be happy” or “I want to have wealth”; but you must remember that these are just words, not the feeling as they are themselves.

That is to say, that to physically say the words, “I am happy.” is not the same as being happy itself. Being happy is an indescribable feeling, because once you are in a moment of happiness, you’re not thinking about how happy you are; you just are. Like all else, it’s like a flow. You lose track of time, and you simply are the experience you are living, and it’s one which through one way or another evokes happiness. If you are to stop and think “why am I happy?” or “how happy am I?” you have begun to detract from the experience, and may actually think “how could I be more happy?” which decreases the intensity of the experience further so that actually you can’t describe your feeling of happiness just now, because you’ve lost yourself trying to define it, and by comparing it to future or further happiness it’s now not as happy as you imagine you could be.

So you’re defining nothing.

In the same way you could say you “want wealth” and in one moment mean “money” and in the next mean “purpose.”

In summary; what this effectively means, is a “You” which is no longer “You”, is defining an experience of say, “Happiness” which you cannot define, because the “Happiness” you are trying to define has passed to the variation of “You” than you were, and the “You” that you are now because you spent the time to define it.

Classification and definition are traits of the intelligent entity; perhaps experience is the trait of the wise entity.

To live the moment; is better than to define it, for in defining it, you surrender it.

And while you could define a moment, retroactively, this is defining a memory of a moment, and not the moment itself. So it is subject to infinite complications and inaccuracies.

Definition enables comparison. Rather than experiencing temperature, you are now experiencing hot or cold, or hotter or colder. This applies to happiness and sadness.

Rather, live in the moment as it is. Do not fear it or long for changing of circumstances, simply bask in what is. And while you can choose to define, at least understand what you are doing to the moment by categorising it. Take the moment as it comes, as it is in its purest form. Do not long for more or less of it, or a greater or lesser intensity of it. Simply; be.

Regardless of what you do; I hope the moment you find yourself in now, is a happy one. Just try not to think about it.

 

Stop The Possibility Of Future Happiness, Determining Whether You Are Happy Now

Happiness, as everything else in life, is fleeting. It is temporary. This is not scary, or negative. It’s a fact. You hurt yourself, you are in pain, then it goes away. You run, you are tired, and then it goes away. You are enraged, you are all consumed by some startling revelation… And then eventually it does subside. You’re sleepy, you go to sleep, and so on and so forth. It’s all temporary, regardless of whether it’s a minute, an hour, a day, a week, or years at a time. It is temporary.

The problem with that, is we must accept that we have to let go of the moment. That time, that feeling, or that possession we felt belonged to us. At some point, although it cannot be identified, we must let go of the current moment, for the sake of the next. And while we would like it to return again one day to a moment we enjoyed in some form of another – the sheer fact we cannot guarantee it brings about our anxiety, or our reluctance to truly let it go. It brings about a unique sadness, where we may not experience the moment, for fear of it not returning again one day. Similar to when you are sad while you’re on holiday, because you know you will be back home in a few days. This is silly. You’re allowing the sadness of not being on holiday, ruin your happiness while you’re actually on it. So now in both moments, you are not achieving your full potential, because you’re sad in the moment, about being sad in the future, about a moment where you were happy, where in fact now you are sad! Which is maddening, and confusing altogether.

If you were to wake up every morning, and consider that today may be your last day – you would drive yourself to the point of insanity, despite the fact that ultimately it is true; it COULD be your last day. To fear the content of the day for fear it is your final one, would be a very negative way to live.

It should not matter if you feel you have one more day to go, or twenty thousand more to go. Make that day count.

If you are to be sad that day, be sad. If you are to be happy that day, be happy. If you must when you are sad, remember that at some point you will be happy again. But to detract from some happy moment, because it may not last, is altogether not worth your time.

While it may be difficult to let go of the beauty as the sun sets, know; you will next have the stars to enjoy.

 

Uncertainty

Uncertainty, it’s a wonderful thing.

It ensures that you live out a fascinating and astonishing life, rather than a mundane one. With every day different, you can be sure you should continue on going because there is so much to see and do.

And yet, it’s so commonly associated with anxiety because anxiety requires it for its very definition. But the two are not interchangeable. Just because you are uncertain of something, does not mean you must be anxious of it.

Uncertainty, refers only to the unknown state or outcome, of future events. Anxiety, refers to the negative feelings most commonly associated with uncertainty. So what happens then, if we remove anxiety, and instead explore uncertainty?

Humans innately strive for the illusion of control; the ability to steer your car down a particular fork in the road, to lead you to pastures new. The problem being that while in theory this seems pleasant, and very deterministic; life is much more chaotic – and while you can choose which road you travel, the problem is your field of vision is foggy at best. So while you may choose the nicer, more well maintained road – you could find that as soon as your on it, there are more obstacles in your way; roadworks or the cars of others that slow you down and bring you to a halt. Perhaps the cars that drove down the nice path did so, because they liked the seaside view next to it. But maybe you don’t like the sea.

So while it’s nice to think you’re in control and making the right decisions, in reality you’re about as likely to predict the correct outcome as the flip of a coin. So why worry about the uncertainty of it all? It’s tension. All of your choices, every single one you have ever made, has been half chance – and so have everyone else’s.

Let’s suppose your loved one is away on travel, and you’re irrationally afraid for their safety. Let’s suppose they are already gone, and so you do not have the option of convincing them not to go or packing a bulletproof vest in their suitcase. Now, whether or not their destination is a safe haven or a war-zone, it does not behoove you or anyone to worry or remain anxious for any length of time. You do not have control over this situation. You are uncertain of the outcome, but that does not mean you have to fear it. The outcome will remain the same, regardless of your fear of it. So why worry?

Apply this to the toxicity of self doubt, in any given situation. How many hours could you justly say that you have wasted thinking about events… which never happened? But you thought they might. And so it felt very real. To you. As real as if it had happened, because just like when a real thing happens and it takes its toll, so too will you be tolled as long as you treat fictitious events as though they are true.

So remove this anxiety from your life. Remain in the moment – and if anything, embrace the fleeting nature of it. Embrace that as you try to hold onto the moment, already it has passed. So do not hold on to it – rather, live it. The universe does not have to adhere to your laws of expectation. Nor does it work on the same reference of time. It can change what it’s doing in an instant, just as you can.

Accept uncertainty. It is merely a synonym, for freedom, when it is not necessarily you who is in control.


Another article you may find helpful regarding this topic of abandoning the illusion of control, and not fearing it, can be found here:

Shorts: The Apple Tree

Stochastic

adjective: stochastic
  1. having a random probability distribution or pattern that may be analysed statistically but may not be predicted precisely.

What this effectively means, is that while we can retroactively analyse that 70% of people who suffered from X succumbed to Y; we cannot say guarantee that 70% of people who suffer from X will succumb to Y.

This is why, mathematically, you should not let something with a small chance of success stop you just because of its likelihood to succeed.

“If something is important enough you should always do it. Even if the expected outcome; is failure.”

It scientifically, succinctly, with supporting evidence, suggests how important it is not to give up on something. How odds are important, only to the mass – not to the individual.

Equally, it humbles the self.

By the same logic, that which is overwhelming likely to work in your favour; may not. Not because you’re bad, or because you made a foolish decision – but because even if something has a 99.9% probability of happening, it still by definition requires 0.1% of people for it not to happen to, or for. And when it is you who finds themselves in the latter percentile, you will be acutely aware that percentage of probability offered you no benefits. You were tarred, by the fact that statistics mean nothing to the individual.

No matter how good a decision you make, or how bad a decision you make, it can go the other way. No because it was the right or wrong thing to do, but because an immeasurable number of other factors had an effect on that decision, which you could not possibly measure or account for. Differences that on their own are negligible, but together if they hit that sweet spot, it can just work out for you, or not.

It’s all chance.

The chance that you’ll fall madly in love. The chance you’ll get your dream job. The chance you’ll be hit by a car tomorrow morning, or that the world will be obliterated by some passing celestial body. The trivial decisions, and the grand. Use chance to share a little kindness, and compassion in a world that appears to grow more grey by the day. Be that one light, turning for all to see, in weathering storm.

So when you see someone on the street, shivering in the cold of the winter, or with chattering teeth from the damp of their sleeping bag that covers them on the ground – be kind. They could have made every possible good decision on the planet, and still been that 0.1% whom it did not work out for. In return, be the 0.1% who stops. Who shows a little compassion, care, and much needed unconditional love.

If you think you are affected by the anxiety of this world, if you fear the next day or if you cry when no one is around, imagine how they must feel. Heartbroken to not have the one they love have their arms around them, and the warmth that comes with it. To be affected by mental illness that comes with the trauma of living on unforgiving streets. To feel unwanted.

You, no matter how clever, how forward thinking, how prepared, or how entitled you believe yourself to be – are not so far separated from the man on the streets. Do not think yourself more important.

You are never too important, to not be kind.

These words may not hit you – they may not break your heart as intended. But if you fall into the 0.1% whom it does hit, I hope you fight with yourself in the night tonight, and decide to do something better. Stochastically, some of you should. But I hope more of you do.

I’ll have to leave it up to chance.

 

Shorts: The Call of the Void – (L’appel du vide)

You’ve had a great day at work. Perhaps someone complimented your appearance, or your hard work received the recognition you feel it deserves. You’re going home to your favourite meal, and since you’re ahead in all your chores, there is little to do but put your feet up, and relax the night away. You stand at the train station, as a light rain pours down, with a smile on your face as you think of all these simple delights that await you. At some point, you glance over, and see that a train is approaching. It is not your train, and it does not stop at this station so it’s going at a fairly high speed. And although you are happy, a coldness washes over you. You stare blankly at the lights on the front of the train. And from somewhere in the attic of your mind, you suddenly think, “Jump.”

It’s a thought and a whisper and a command all at once. “Jump… Jump onto the tracks. Right. Now.”

The train blazes by. It’s gone undisturbed. The train driver is still smiling, completely unaware of what you just thought about doing. You watch the train for longer than usual, before staring blankly ahead. What just happened? Why did you think that?

L’appel du vide. The Call of the Void.

A french term, referring to that feeling we get, even for a brief moment, where we just think – “I could do something terrible in every sense of the word right now. For no particular reason at all.”

It can range from the example I’ve given above, to thinking you could just crash your car into a tree while the kids argue in the back. Or perhaps that you could push your beloved friend over a mountainside as you both stand enjoying the view. It could be to cause damage to yourself, or to a loved one, or just generally do something horrible, like knocking an ice cream cone from the hands of a child, simply because you can.

While this is a scary thought to think about, and we often feel at our most insane in these moments, the good news is… we all have them. You are not bad. We’ve all thought about doing something like that, and sometimes frequently. But most importantly… it’s completely normal. You’re not saying you WILL do them, or even thinking you should. It’s just a combination of a sudden feeling of power revealing itself at an opportune moment. It’s a sudden realisation that in this moment, you have control, and a power to do anything, regardless of whether it’s good or not.

It’s actually beautiful in a way, because for a brief second, we feel truly empowered. It just manifest’s itself negatively, because thankfully we don’t often think these thoughts, and so we seize our brief moment to do so.

The next time you do have one of these moments, be comforted by the fact that it is so common place, the French have a name for it. Be comforted knowing the kindest people you know, have thought these things also. And be thankful that while you thought them, you did not do them.

Instead, watch the train, or the tree, or the shrinking mountainside go by, smile and laugh to yourself, “L’appel du vide…”

What Are You Worth?

What are you worth?

It’s not a thought that often crosses the forefront of our mind, but I’d wager that for many, an arbitrary value exists somewhere in the recesses of thought.

This topic was brought about by a conversation I had with some close friends, where I proposed them the following scenario with a single question;


 

“Suppose you are diagnosed with a chronic illness. And unfortunately, the doctor informs you that this illness will bring about your imminent demise. In fact, you will die, tomorrow.

However, the doctor informs you that while there is no cure, there is a treatment, in the form of a single pill. Now what this pill does, is keep you effectively staving off the effects of the disease, for one day.

There are many of these pills, and they are readily available to you. The pill cannot be stacked, but it will work continuously.

i.e. You cannot take six pills and live for six more days, but for every pill you take, you get to live for one more day, specifically the following. So you must take this pill every morning, to continue living for the rest of that day.

Now for the question; at what cost, do you STOP paying for the pill?”

*Perhaps answer the question for yourself, before reading any further.


 

I found this such an interesting question to pose to my close friends, particularly because of the first response I got, when I had asked a clearly startled colleague

Although I am not afraid of death, and in fact, I struggle to identify when you can even call someone truly dead (a topic for another day), I still would always answer – “I would pay anything for the pill.”

I assumed this was an obvious answer, that everyone has the same zest and desire for life, and that my colleague would respond in kind. But instead she replied, “Nothing. I would not pay anything for that pill.”

I was shocked. This completely bewildered me. My colleague doesn’t come across as an unhappy person, and yet I must confess, this was my immediate reaction, although I did not vocalise it. But then immediately, she followed it up with, “I wouldn’t want to leave anyone behind, with a burden of paying for that medicine.”

In a roller-coaster of emotion, I now felt incredibly selfish. I had not even considered the people I would leave behind. In my mind, I thought I would do anything to continue paying for that pill, in the sense of I would accept every inch of the responsibility. But then on further examination of my conscience, I think even if I did leave a burden upon the living… I don’t know. I think my answer still might be “I would do anything for that pill.”

While I cannot know for certain, and it is indeed all a thought experiment, I cannot think of a time when I would condemn myself, to my final day on Earth, voluntarily.

And yet, I then decided to propose a different scenario upon myself alone, based on the famous trolley question;


 

“Suppose I am working in a laboratory, and there is an accident with a spilled contaminant. This contaminant bubbles and breathes gas into the lab. This chemical is lethal when inhaled.

You and your lab partner, the only people in the room, rush to the two hazmat suits in the corner. But unfortunately as you get there, you discover one suit has been ripped, and is rendered useless.

The person who does not wear the suit, will not die a painful death. But they will die over the next minute. There is no cure as of yet, and they will not be revived.

Your partner has abstained from making the decision, and will readily accept yours.

Do you take the suit for yourself, or do you give it to your partner?”

*Again, perhaps answer the question for yourself, before reading any further.


 

Now with this question, my answer immediately would be, “I would give the suit to my partner.”

But again upon closer and initial inspection, it seems that there is a bit of an oxymoron between these two answers on my part. It doesn’t rightly make sense for me to fight so unyielding for my life, and yet on a different breath, give it up so readily.

Now perhaps I am perfectly willing to sacrifice my life for another’s. And I’m sure most people would like to believe this also. Hopefully we will be fortunate enough never be put in that situation, and have to even find out.

But here is where I am torn. I believe you should work hard to leave some part of you on this universe. That you should leave it in some kind of better state than when you found it.

And the idea of granting someone a life, by sacrificing mine helps me fulfil that. But just giving up on my life, doesn’t necessarily fulfil it for me. I think that’s why I fight so hard for the pill. With the pill, I can still try. I can still try with every second of my life to make the universe better in some way. But what if in doing that, I actually make it worse for those I leave behind?

What I’m also concerned with, is I think I would fear the idea of my last day, and my last thoughts, not being good ones. The idea of going home, putting on some TV, calling up far away family members to tell them the news, and gathering with closer family to be with me, and then just passing away – I don’t think it makes the cut for me. I could not have, an ordinary day be my last, without knowing if I truly made the world a better place with my time spend on it. But with the chemical spill thought, I can at least die a hero. Regardless of what I’ve done, some of it may be redeemed, and my successor can continue to do good in this world, because I gave them that chance.

Ultimately; I don’t know.

I don’t believe for the time being I have an answer to these questions both. I think it will take many more conversations and much more time thinking about this before I could propose an answer. Maybe by the time I come to the conclusion, my thoughts on the whole thing might have changed. This, I really do not know.

But with my thought and opinions as they stand today fully out there, let me ask you; What are you worth?