One of the topics that came up in conversation last night with Wes’s crowd was whether people wanted to live forever. Opinions varied; some people felt that without the pressure of death, we would never get around to doing anything at all – procrastination would always win out. Others felt strongly that life was too short, and it would be wonderful to actually get to do everything one wanted to do.
It’s an interesting question. I’m kind of torn. I’m definitely a champion procrastinator, and often waste time unless I have a deadline looming for me. So until recently, I would have probably agreed with those who say that we need the prospect of death to motivate us to do anything at all.
However, I’m starting to come to grips with the idea that life is short, as I mused about in my post about life’s irreversibility. It sucks that I don’t feel like I have the time to invest in becoming expert in any given field because it would mean never exploring any other field. Part of my generalist stance is that I’d rather know a little bit about lots of things, than a lot about one thing, and the finite length of life forces me to make choices because of that preference.
But the rules would all change if I were going to live forever. I could invest the time to become an expert in a subject without feeling like I was shutting all of the other possible doors. Instead of my peripatetic career path, where I’ve hopped from one career to the next soon after I become minorly competent, I could spend the time to really master something before moving on. I don’t know if I would; I might still get bored and not want to put in the time and effort necessary to become an expert. But the time pressure of knowing that I’m shutting off other possibilities in my life would be removed.
Now that I think about it more, the original worry about becoming complacent probably would not apply to me either. As soon as I’ve gotten good at something, it starts to bore me. Which is kind of a character flaw on my part; I don’t have the compulsion, the drive, to continually improve myself. Which gets us back to the question of passion.
Anyway. It’s an interesting question. How would you live your life differently if you knew you were going to live forever? Would you continually try new things? Would you stay in one field and become the ultimate master of it? Or would you grow disgruntled like Wowbagger the Infinitely Prolonged and decide to insult everybody in the universe in alphabetical order?
P.S. I had to write this post because all afternoon I’ve had the songs “Who wants to live forever?” by Queen and “Living forever” by Genesis stuck in my head.