When I was younger I knew with absolute certainty that I wanted to be cryogenically frozen when I died, so I could eventually live again, whenever science has evolved enough to resuscitate my icy cold head. Why wouldn’t I want to live forever? At the very least I could observe the world endlessly and see what happens. I think I felt a lot more special, important and unique back then. Now that I’m hitting middle age, I’m kind of ok with just fading into obscurity after I die. My contribution to the world will end when I die. All I want to do until then, is ensure that my contribution is a positive one. Exactly what that contribution is and how it will be judged, I still have no idea.
I’m definitely resonating with the ‘middle’ in middle age lately. A lot of the goals I have are pass-me-ons from my younger self. I remember the enthusiasm I had for my goals back then, but nowadays.. it’s all just kind of faded away. I know that I have to do something with my goals before I hit old age. The reason for that is pretty simple: my family doesn’t age well. Looking at how others in my immediate family have aged, even if I do everything right, it’s pretty unlikely that I’ll have a good quality of life after 70, and personally I wouldn’t bet on my chances after 65 either. If I want to achieve things, it needs to be before then. It reminds me of the Your Life in Weeks post by Wait But Why. We should spend our time wisely.
I always considered myself an Optimistic Nihilist. The nihilist part of that is: I believe that, ultimately, there is no real meaning behind anything, and when we die, that’s it. But the optimist part of that is: if all that’s true and nothing really matters, then we might as well enjoy ourselves while we can and live life to the fullest. This was my belief when I was young, and I believe that I still believe this now, although lately my applied beliefs are more in line with that of a paperclip maximizer. I exist to provide, and I provide to exist. I try to make money so I can exist longer. I try to keep my body somewhat healthy so I can exist longer. I don’t consider any of that a great life goal in and of itself, but, despite literally decades of thinking about this, it’s still the only answer I can give myself, and I’m in a privileged enough position to not have to worry about the simpler challenges in life, like being employed, fed and healthy, for which I am very grateful. For now though, all I’m doing is buying myself more time to think.
I’m still at the lower end of middle age. I have time. I don’t know what to do with that time yet. But I have time. There should be more.