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.