The futility of life.

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Submitted by brad on Sat, 01/09/2010 - 01:31

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I would like to take this opportunity to say hi to the people of One Twenty Ten, Hi.

People of the future, interesting that you would choose to read this post, what was it that got your attention, catchy subject line?

Take care, people of the future.

Phil
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This'll be a long one. Click 'read more' to see it all.  You want to know why I don't blog more? a.) I figure people need time to read it. b.) I get bored. c.), I figure what's the point.  That's a key one. What is the point? Of anything?  If global warming doesn't do us in, the dwindling water supply will. If that doesn't do us in, the bees will die, taking all of us with them.  If that doesn't do us in, we've got the sun going super nova, the universe collapsing in on itself (or expanding to nothingness), the laws of thermodyanmics ensuring we're all heading to a lukewarm puddle of entropy; and then there are the asteroids. Any way you slice it, we're eventually toast. Hundreds, Thousands, milliions of years, but eventually.

Let's look at doing something on a grand scale.  Changing the world, making it a better place.  If we go soon, that's that. But let's say we manage to make it a few eons, and I invent a toaster that generates understanding and tolerance. The higher you crank it, the more tolerant you are. You have to willingly choose burnt toast for the rest of your life, but you get a better world. Would you do it? But I digress. Point is, I invent something. Time Magazine honours me. The Nobels come knocking. People say I revolutionized the way we make breakfast in the morning.  Is anyone going to remember that 10,000 years from now? Sure the internet stores everything, but our brains don't.  When we're beamiong raw nutrients directly into our bloodstream while holo-vacationing on Saturn, will people even remember toast? Say I go into politics.  Sure, schoolkids and newcomers have to learn all the Presidents, all the Prime MInisters, but there's not a lot right now. Relatively speaking. Are they going to expect people to remember  all of them 10,000 years from now? Honestly? I'm sure it'll be recorded, but will they really teach it?  Test it? I doubt it. Maybe the the firsts. First president? Done. First African American President? Sure. First woman? First sentient android? The last president before we joined the World Unified Solar Senate? Of course.  Presidents who have been impeached or died in office? Maybe, for the bar bets.  The rest? Forget it. Maybe I invent something.  10,000 years from now - "What's a phone?" Maybe they'll teach who invented the first. Maybe creating a masterpiece would be the ticket.  Art, Movies, Music.  Is anyone going to watch "It's a Wonderful Life" in 10,000 years?  It will be so far removed from their frame of reference.  Sitting in their transorbital shelter, mind floating freely, long ago decoupled from the body, communicating instantaneously with 10,000 other entities, all manner of money long since obliterated, living for centuries (a future blog topic) and they're going to relate to a small town? A banker? Death? There is nothing that will withstand the test of time. And what do you care anyway, you'll long since be turned to dust...or will you?

On a smaller scale, one might be tempted to say "In that case, I should live life to it's fullest".  Reach for your dreams, embrace the day, because in the end, all we have are our memories. Die with no regrets.  But, why not? No one will remember if you did.  Let's say there is Heaven. Tthe works.  I want to live life to it's fullest so I can enjoy the memories for eternity?  If it's Heaven, I don't need to. You can't tell me I'd spend eternity in Heaven thinking - "This is awesome and all, but man I wish I'd taken that boat trip around the world when I was a alive".  It's Heaven. Eternal bliss, all that. I'm not going to be saddled with regrets.  Now, suppose Heaven does not exist.  Then what? I live my life to the fullest, so as to die with no regrets, smile smugly from behind the ventilator as I take one last breath and then <click> nothing. I'm done.  But I'm going to move on from that topic, because death is sitll the one topic that can make my stomach churn and my hands get clammy.  I do not like to think about it.  Point is, living life to the fullest, at the end, is ultimately irrelevant, either way you slice it. I suppose reincarnation might have an out.  You wouldn't remember your past life, but what you do in this one affects what you do in the next so, even if you won't remember it, you don't want to screw yourself down the road.  I think that applies more to good deeds than to eating an entire apple pie, though. And karma. If I live my life badly or well, that will have an impact on people, and maybe one of those people will grow up to save/destroy the world.  But I'm talking more about deciding to go somewhere tropical in the middle of winter, or take a french class, than I am about feeding the homeless or solving world hunger.

So I can blog. And in the short term, I might feel satisfied. Smug, even. My thoughts are out there for the world to see, and all will know the genius that is I. Until someone comments. Probably to point out something irrelevant to the topic, like how my understanding of thermodynamics is off because I'm not obviously not a..hmm..thermodynamicist.  Or how I mentioned Heaven, and the possible non-existence of it, so now I have to be enlightened.  Or even worse; nobody comments. Plus this will get archived somewhere, and potentially dog me for the rest of my life.  Maybe it will give my kids some insight into who I was. Maybe, like  diary, I will regret everything I posted and not want them to see that side of me.  Who I am now, is not who I will be 15 years from now.  All in all, there's a whole lot of downside in the now, to posting, and very little upside. And in the end, what will it matter?  I believe that, 10,000 years from now this page likely will still exist, in whatever form the internet takes, assuming we avoid annihilation. But is searching for "+religion +thermodynamics +entropy" really going to bring up my page, cached on the "wayback machine", as a hit? Perhaps hit 15,667,345,456,789,234 of 16,000,000,000,000,000. Will anyone read this? Probably not. it may 'exist', in the most literal sense, but it won't really exist.

And this is what I think of every time I am faced with a choice. Every time. Whether it's deciding to take a trip, or go to a movie.  To post a blog. To get out of bed in the morning. To brush my teeth.  Every single thing is ultimately pointless.

But, I will now do one of my trademark reversals. Because, as I type this, I realize I don't necssarily believe that. Sure, the mundane acts.  The ones I would define as personal, and selfish.  Did I see that movie, did I bungee jump, did I climb Mount Everest? Trivial piddle. it may make me feel good, but so what?  What am I? Nothing.  But people. Affecting people. I do believe in that. Having children.  Being kind to someone.  Helping someone. Giving someone a dinner/movie/computer/shoulder.  It affects people, affects their lives, which in turn affect other lives. For the most part it's localized, but you never know. You never know the ramifications of an action.  An act of kindness might brighten someone's day, which in turn might lead them to brghten their child's, which might lead that child to grow up believing in acts of kindness, which would them be conveyed to more people. We have no clue where our actions may lead. Earth-killing asteroids aside, the ripple effects of what we do will almost certainly outlast us. The same, unfortunately, is true for negative acts. So there is some purpose in that.  I will never be an activist, I may never even be a volunteer. But I try to help the people in my life.

And that is actually what I think of everytime I am faced with a choice. First the crushing pointlessness of it all, pushing me to total inaction, followed by my "ah, but...", which saves the day long enough for me to make a choice. Until the next choice.  Sigh.