Since I was a child, I’ve been fascinated by astrophysics. The history of time. The scale of the universe. The remarkable fact that despite slim odds and multiple extinction level events, we are alive and conscious today.
And when I think about what I should focus on every day, I often feel torn.
Should I live for the moment I’m on my deathbed and try to avoid these top 5 regrets of the dying?
Should I live for the present since tomorrow is unknown?
Should I live for my future self 10 years from now and take the “delayed gratification” steps necessary to set myself up for future success?
Should I live for others and focus on improving their lives?
Should I admit that I’m a cosmic speck that is so insignificant in the scale of the universe that my existence doesn’t even register as a blip on the cosmic timeline?
It’s the old paradox: “What should you do if everything matters and nothing matters?”
There are a few obvious responses to these questions.
A religious viewpoint might posit that our purposes and lives are in the hands of a greater power.
A postmodern viewpoint might suggest that all meaning is constructed, so it’s up to us to determine our purpose.
A nihilist might argue that none of this matters, so you should get by until you die.
One thing is certain though – our consciousness in our current form will come to an end sooner or later.
So I wonder if we can try to fuse those seemingly contradictory viewpoints to generate a few general guidelines by which to live life:
- Be good to people and help those you can help.
- Have as much fun as possible in the short time you’re on this earth.
- Don’t worry if it all matters – that’s one question to which we’ll never have a definitive answer.
I certainly don’t have everything figured out, but since no one else does either, I think this guess is as good as any. And hopefully, living by these guidelines will make the world a better place.