Roy Batty knew how to die, so why don't I?


Something has been bothering me for a while:

By that I mean the last line, here:

Replicants, unlike humans, know the date they’re going to die: four years from incept date. Batty’s termination date, pictured in the video, was January 8th, 2020. In the end, he died “naturally”, though of course the whole movie is about replicants attempting to (unsuccessfully) avoid their scheduled, built-in death.

This is going to sound weird, and maybe it is, but lately I’ve been thinking a lot about … the purpose of life.

  • Are we obligated to live as long as possible, until the natural end comes? Why?

  • How do you choose to die responsibly, at a time of your choice? Is that even possible, after getting married and having kids? Only in the case of terminal illnesses, perhaps?

  • Don’t you have serious responsibilites to other humans (primarily your family, though possibly others) that only end on death, and by that we mean natural death, never an early choice since that’d be a cop out?

They say life is short, but I’ve never felt that way. Life is interminably long. They say your kids grow up fast, but I’ve never felt that way. They grow up excruciatingly slowly. They say you only get one life, so live it to the fullest extent possible, but I’ve never felt that way. My cup overfloweth for decades now.

I feel like at this point in my life (age 47? I was born very late in 1970), I’ve done all the things I needed to do, or set out to do:

  • got an education
  • got married
  • had a successful career
  • had children
  • had a reasonably positive impact on the world
  • founded businesses, influenced people, etc
  • acquired “generational” wealth so the financial well being of my family is assured
  • seen enough of the world and travelled (I’m not a big traveler, to be fair)

Everything else beyond this is just waiting to see how the rest of it plays out, for another ~30-40 years.

I’m no longer sure I want that.

This is not to say that I am unhappy, because I am not! The day to day of the work and the family life are keeping me busy, and I feel the joy and pain of those rhythmic weekly, monthly, yearly ups and downs. In fact, everything is going great. But there is a sense of … crushing inevitability about this path. It’s like I’ve reached the level cap, so I’m just waiting for the next expansion to raise the cap, then the next one, then the next one, until I’m done. Is that all there is? Haven’t I played this game before?

Of course, I have literally no reason to complain about anything, ever. I have a deeply privileged rich white male life, and nothing bad has ever really happened to me.

Maybe the purpose of life at this stage is to help others. Help your kids become. Help others become. Help the disadvantaged and people with less power than you, become. I wish I was better at this, but I feel like I know so little about how to become myself. So every time I try, it feels awful, because I am terrible at it. I almost want to move myself out of the way so others can step up, because I’ve done my bit here, and the best way I know to make room for others is to step aside. Permanently.


To die well, you have to die responsibly, and your responsibilities to others come before your responsibility to yourself. And I guess that means living until the bitter end, or very nearly. There’s no other way forward.

I’d love to hear other perspectives on this.

Marc Laidlaw has released his Half-Life Episode 3 plot

This might seem insanely nihilistic, but… what else are you going to do?

You live because the alternative is going to happen anyway. Ideally you try to make other people’s journey better if you can. Dying wont make anyone else’s journey better or easier, probably quite the opposite in fact.


Achievement unlocked: midlife crisis

I’m only a few months older than you. Still trying to figure out what to be when I grow up.

I hear you on wanting to help others. The worst part is watching what’s happening in our country and feeling helpless to do anything about it.

Not sure if this is an issue for you, but another aspect for me is health. Overall, I’m in pretty good shape, but the little things are starting to be a nuisance. The long-term wear and tear, like battling Tinnitus over the last 18 months. Could certainly be worse, though, and I feel for people who have more serious concerns (either themselves or their family).


It’s kind of funny, you know, but given that everyone dies we just don’t know how to really think about it. Not that that isn’t understandable, it’s like we all carry our own personal apocalypse in our genes. Or maybe on the front grill of that oncoming bus, or down the barrel of that mugger. Who knows, it’s the end of our world anyway, and it’s a big concept to wrap your brain around. Like when Arthur Dent is trying to think about the end of the world in Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - it was too big, so he scaled back. No more McDonald’s. Oh my god.

As a consequence of that, you can’t really discuss thoughts about planning for end of life either. Not if you don’t want people calling crisis intervention and suicide hotlines on your ass. It’s a gaping hole not just in our healthcare system but our culture in general. I’ve given some thought about talking death with my children. I had to, my grandfather, who my kids loved, died earlier this year. And it’s not like I could just handwave that away. My daughter, who is two, didn’t really grasp any of it. And that’s probably best. But my son who is five, he thought about it a lot. Not really the finality of death as much as he won’t see his great grandpa again. So, there’s one reason. You live so you can be there for them. Maybe someday they won’t need you, won’t even miss you. Then you can shuffle off that mortal coil.

I was listening to a radio show once and I recall a woman said off-handedly that southerners are obsessed with death. I don’t know if that’s true but I kind of am. Not to say I have a death wish or anything, just that I think about it. I think about, what would I do if my wife and kids were taken from me, say in a car accident? Could I go on? Would I even want to? I wouldn’t really owe anyone anything, I could just walk down the hill to the rocky beach, strip off my clothes and wade out into Puget Sound. I wouldn’t even really have to drown, hypothermia would take me out within a half hour. That probably reads weird, and again, it’s not as though I want to die, but someday I’m going to. Do I just want to wait for it to come to me? Do I want to slowly waste away in a retirement home? Be eaten from the inside out with cancer? I kind of think no, so that leaves you with uncomfortable options. Man, I hope my wife doesn’t read this.


There are actually all kinds of professionals who will help you with estate planning and planning for the final stages of life. They may not be able to help you plan the moment and method of your demise, but they can do most of the rest.

In terms of the meaning of life, other than the obvious one of propagation of the species and the passing on of your own unique genetic material, if the choice is checking out or hanging around, why not hang around? There are so many interesting places, people, books, shows, things to do, etc. Once we part the veil, there may be nothing on the other side. At least here there’s stuff to do. Most of us have a Steam backlog!


Yeah, begging your pardon dude, but the question I am looking at is not “what will happen to my shit when I die” but rather “how do I want to die”?


I’d like to not leave a mess behind me that might be stressful for the people who have to deal with it. You?

Edit: You mean, the method of your death? Personally, I’d like to die in my sleep. I’d like to be old but still healthy enough to walk and take care of myself. I’d like it to be a surprise, but something I have planned for.


[quote][69] No one is totally wretched, even if his health is bad— some find happiness in their children, some in their kin, some in their money, some in work well done. [70] Better to be alive, no matter what, than dead— only the living enjoy anything. I saw a rich man’s house, but it was on fire, and he lay dead outside the door. [71] A limping man can ride a horse, a handless man can herd, a deaf man can fight and win. It’s better even to be blind than fuel for the funeral pyre; what can a dead man do?

Crawford, Jackson (2015-03-15). The Poetic Edda: Stories of the Norse Gods and Heroes (Hackett Classics) (p. 29). Hackett Publishing Company, Inc… Kindle Edition. [/quote]

[quote]“Differently than before, he now looked upon people, less smart, less proud, but instead warmer, more curious, more involved. When he ferried travelers of the ordinary kind, childlike people, businessmen, warriors, women, these people did not seem alien to him as they used to: he understood them, he understood and shared their life, which was not guided by thoughts and insight, but solely by urges and wishes, he felt like them. … it still seemed to him as if those childlike people were his brothers, their vanities, desires for possession, and ridiculous aspects were no longer ridiculous to him, became understandable, became lovable, even became worthy of veneration to him. The blind love of a mother for her child, the stupid, blind pride of a conceited father for his only son, the blind, wild desire of a young, vain woman for jewelry and admiring glances from men, all of these urges, all of this childish stuff, all of these simple, foolish, but immensely strong, strongly living, strongly prevailing urges and desires were now no childish notions for Siddhartha any more, he saw people living for their sake, saw them achieving infinitely much for their sake, travelling, conducting wars, suffering infinitely much, bearing infinitely much, and he could love them for it, he saw life, that what is alive, the indestructible… Worthy of love and admiration were these people in their blind loyalty, their blind strength, and tenacity. "

Excerpt From: Hermann Hesse. “Siddhartha.” iBooks. [/quote]

I’ve had some health issues come up recently of indeterminate nature and resolution that has had me thinking on this in recent months. However it’s something i’ve dealt with personally for years, even before i was double digits in age. The terror of non-existence.

[quote]“if this is the case], human good turns out to be activity of soul exhibiting virtue, and if there are more than one virtue, in accordance with the best and most complete. But we must add ‘in a complete life’. For one swallow does not make a summer, nor does one day; and so too one day, or a short time, does not make a man blessed and happy.”

Excerpt From: Aristotle, David Ross & Lesley Brown. “The Nicomachean Ethics.” iBooks. [/quote]

Getting around that steep mountain is up to you. The question is rather, what to do with the time that you have? Do you lay down and die, despairing of the heat death of the universe? Don’t worry about that because in a mere five thousand years no one will remember who you were anyway.

True virtue is acting virtuously without the fear or threat of being observed. It’s the, how do i live my life alone on a desert island until the day i die?, argument. If you are trapped, alone, with no one to watch over you, no one to judge you, what would you do? Burn the island down around you? Torture every animal at hand out of spite and sadistic impulses? Sit alone and watch the sunsets turn into night until the crickets turn our your lights? Or build, think, create and do; not because you are compelled by society to but because you can?

We’re thinking apes with opposible thumbs - toolmaking apes - where the cognitive ability to hold a 'blueprint" or prototype tool is the fundamental cognitive breakthrough that allowed us to conquer the world. This is our nature, whether we like it or not. We’re not space faring gas-grazers munching on helium in the orbits of Jupiter nor immortal but immobile rock-crystals bored from watching our slow impending doom from erosion and plate technonics. Is it braver to do good without hope of reward than one who throws themselves into the fire convinced there’s a heavenly reward waiting on the other side?

Now think of how much all your ancestors have sacrificed to see you throw it all away. Think if your sons or daughters came to you and said “Dad, i’m bored of this life, what’s the point of going on?” Did you work and strive and accomplish to see them say that?

Ours is a destiny of work, toil, love and joy, loss and gain, and to strive to add or own paving stone to the work of history. Think off all the unfortunates before us that never had the chance for such a choice, stolen from them whilst young by disease, accident, violence or ill fortune. There are universes out there waiting for you to discover; the one we live in and the ones we create inside our minds. Not finding a reason to keep going on seems like the only real mistake.


OK great, let’s have a discussion that’s already been had a thousand times over on CNNMoney, I guess. Hey, anybody got the number of a good estate planner?


Sorry. I guess I seized on your comment that there’s no one you can talk to. There are a lot of people you can talk to. People here. Estate planners. Counselors if you’re dealing with thoughts of depression and suicide. You could probably go into a McDonald’s and talk to the meeting of the oldsters there about your existential thoughts and get a response that didn’t include calling 911 for someone to come and throw a butterfly net over you. There’s an abundance of sounding boards out there.

But if you want to think there’s no one to talk to, there will be no one to talk to.


This makes me feel like a failure of a person, and each day I struggle to be physically active due to my lungs or pancrease it deepens my anxiety and sadness (days where I can work outside on the frog bog though are the best, most glorious days ever).

This is not to take the focus off you Wumpus, but to give you a comparative analogy. You’ve accomplished a trifecta of things most people can only dream about, and now you’re in “what now” territory and I’d say. Help someone who needs it. A child who needs a wish granted, an elderly person who would appreciate a visit at a nursing home “just schedule a day, show up and say - who do you think would like some company and companionship for a few hours?” You have the ability to make a big difference in life. Run for Congress or local government. Run as a Democrat to win seats back from Repubs. Or if you’re in a Republican stronghold run as a Republican, but hold fast to facets of good morality, good ethics, and kindness - the party could learn from you. I’d volunteer for your back-end phone support team.

You’re a good person Wumpus and you can make things better for people in ways most wouldn’t have the tools to realize. I mean, a once in a while thing so you realize you’re not just taking up space (which you’re not because you’re talented and your family loves you and my guess would be aghast to ever lose you) Let’s not just talk just about skillsets, of which you’re blessed with amazing talents, but as a person. You’ve had to set priorities and now they’re filled, take your time and really - you have so much to offer it would be a mistake for you to “step aside” to let someone in place to do stuff because there will never be enough of “you”. Do you understand? Our world is in short supply of individuals like yourself because so much hope can be made depending on what kind of hole you try to fill. Whether it’s a single person, who you can save their life (saving a life not just in the literal sense) with your skillsets and resources you have, or more doesn’t matter. We need you. Myself on the other hand. I am scared to death when I see stuff like, “wish you’d die so you didn’t waste my tax dollars on a disease you should have died from”. I feel, like worthless scum and feel like a low- cost, defective replicant from Blade Runner. I try so hard, and sometimes that is ending up in bed for days or the hospital and thinking about people who see it as a liability on spreadsheet who are ready to hit the deny button because “I’m not worth it”

I already go without chiropractic care which I desperately need for my destroyed back - from carrying liquid oxygen on it for so many years. I writhe in pain in bed for hours sometimes, it’s terrible. So I already make sacrifices with my meds and treatments and it’s still not enough that I live in pain for people to think I should be thrown away to make way for others. If I could get back back treatment like needed I’d be a new person. I had it for 4 weeks several years ago and it made an amazing (not a placebo effect) difference. It’s not a simple neck crack but they need to ambulate each vertebra to get them moving and into the right orientation. But I’ve sacrificed this because I can’t afford it and stuff that is covered I titre down to minimum dosages where I can safely make that adjustment to make the meds last longer and so the insurance company takes a much lower hit. I saved the insurance company over $30,000 last year by being frugal. I fear as I get older the pain and sickness accelerating, spending the end of my life a shriveled shell. I don’t want to go out that way. I want to be happy, in love with life, family, and country having enjoyed it to it’s fullest, and able to appreciate it. I could use advice from people who are doing better than I am or have learned to cope.


Well of course I’m not you Jeff, but if I could try putting myself in your headspace for a moment, I think I’d quote Zach de la Rocha from the first Rage Against the Machine album - “anger is a gift.” Were someone to tell me that I should give up and die because I’m using up valuable resources then my contrarian nature would kick in so hard I’m pretty sure the feedback would knock that well-wisher off his feet. I would then quote Gene Wilder in Young Frankenstein - “I want to LIVE!”, which he unfortunately did not, but then to quote Edward James Olmos in Blade Runner, who does?


Go fight ISIS.


Unyielding despair. :D

Not that I agree (I personally recommend ‘The Self and Its Brain: An Argument for Interactionism’ by Popper and Eccles) , but the following quotes from great minds are the type that I enjoy curating:

Richard Dawkins:

There is at bottom no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pointless indifference…We are machines for propagating DNA. It is every living object’s sole reason for being.

Bertrand Russel:

Man…his hopes and fears, his loves and his beliefs, are but the outcome of accidental collocations of atoms; no fire, no heroism, no intensity of thought and feeling, can preserve an individual life beyond the grave…only on the firm foundation of unyielding despair, can the soul’s habitation henceforth be safely built.

Michael Ruse:

Ethics is illusory. I appreciate that when somebody says ‘Love thy neighbor as thyself,’ they think they are referring above and beyond themselves. Nevertheless such reference is truly without foundation. Morality is just an aid to survival and reproduction…and any deeper meaning is illusory.

Sam Harris:

You are no more responsible for the state of your brain in this moment than you are for your height…thoughts simply arise in the mind. But the idea that we as conscious beings are…responsible for the characters of our minds, simply can’t be mapped onto reality.

Francis Crick:

You, your joys and your sorrows, your memories and ambitions, your sense of personal identity and free will, are in fact no more than the behaviour of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules.

Will Provine:

Let me summarize my views on what modern evolutionary biology tells us loud and clear — and these are basically Darwin’s views. There are no gods, no purposes, and no goal-directed forces of any kind. There is no life after death. When I die, I am absolutely certain that I am going to be dead. That’s the end of me.

There is no ultimate foundation for ethics, no ultimate meaning in life, and no free will for humans, either.

Stephen Hawking:

Given the state of the universe at one time, a complete set of laws fully determines both the future and the past. That would exclude the possibility of miracles or an active role for God…It is hard to see how free will can operate if our behavior is determined by physical law, so it seems we are no more than biological machines and that free will is just an illusion.


Please do, please please do, what you and others have shared here is amazing and powerful. I want to hear your stories because I already know mine all too well. That is the purpose of this topic.

I hesitate to say that none of that stuff I possess or have achieved “makes me happy” because it is such a god damn bullshit and disrespectful thing to say. Rather, I find that I am never satisfied… that I just fundamentally don’t know how to be comfortable in my own skin so I am always itching and scratching and pushing and wriggling and squirming to achieve whatever the next thing is, because that is what we humans do, isn’t it?

Dealing with other people, that’s the easy part. Dealing with yourself is a relentless task that only ends when you do.


There are many films which deal with this theme.


My answer to the question of the meaning of life, AKA “Why are we here?” :
You are not here to do anything. You are not here to learn anything. You are here simply for the experience of being here.

Life is not a contest or a school. Look at Wumpus’ and Jipinard’s posts, they are grading themselves as doing good or bad at life. I believe this is a mistake.

Just try and enjoy your life. If you must ‘win’, then winning is enjoying your existence as much as possible.


They weren’t kidding about this forum skewing old!


@wumpus, I’m surprised it took you until 47 to start to feel some of what you’re talking about. I guess it happens to all of us. Hell, my girlfriend and I discuss this very topic, sometimes for hours. Midlife is when we gain that wonderful ability to reflect the, “why,” of life. Sure, we all think about that when we are younger, but it never clicks that you have reached what you think is your pinnacle, until you actually reach it and feel that way. “Is this my best?” “Is there nothing else?” “Is it all down hill from here?”

We all feel that way. Everything will be okay. There is nothing wrong with you.

I wish I could give this fantastic summary of tips and things to do to get out of it, but being a fellow in your shoes, I’m no better at figuring out this thing than you are. My only thoughts that have given me the wind back on my sails are thus:

  • Now is when you look at yourself and ask, “what is it that truly makes ME happy?” Is it being more successful? Is it being a loving husband for your wife? Is it helping your kids, or volunteering, or starting a new hobby or business? Or is it just sitting on a boat in the middle of a huge lake, sipping a cold beverage and just enjoying the sun and finally … relaxing? Life isn’t a checklist of things you have to have to unlock for an achievement. We’re all fooled into believing that. Life is only, ever, what MAKES YOU HAPPY.

  • You don’t have to be everything to everybody. None of your checklist makes you great to yourself, those things you list are what you parade in front of others for their approval. You don’t really need it. Now that you’re free of giving a fuck, all of it is hitting you as, “where the fuck am I in life and what the hell do I do now?” Whatever you want to do. Quit looking at that checklist.

Because you aren’t sure what you want. Don’t put everything back in a checklist. Just go and do. If that means things change now, there really isn’t anyone that needs to approve of that but you.


How old are your kids?

Ultimately, when they leave the nest and get out there doing their thing, that’s when the “Man, life is short” bit starts really kicking in. I’m at that point now with one and two are two years away. I miss the days when they were smaller and we all sat together playing videogames or attending baseball games or just did the little things together.

I’m pretty sure I’ll do some of those things you already did because I’m still rather young, but I’ll still struggle sometimes with the fact that maybe the best days of my life are in the rear view. I know what I enjoy doing, but man, I loved finding out what they enjoyed doing and sharing it with them daily.