30/1/2022 1 Comment
On the timing of a life
I wonder sometimes whether to think of a life as a series of moments or a narrative and whether it makes a difference to how you think of a life when it ends. The Romans had the dispiriting idea that you might live beyond what should have been the end of your life, but I wonder also whether the timing matters not just in terms of your personal narrative, the biographical elegance of dying at a certain point in the story of your life, but in terms of the moment of history - or stretch of history - you have lived in (or will have lived in). Would you have been lucky to have died before the Trump presidency, or before the Covid epidemic? Would you have been unlucky (or lucky, perhaps, depending on your nationality and politics) to have died halfway through the second world war not knowing who would win it? Would you be luckier to live through it and find out the ending, and would you be unlucky to live through it and find out the ending supposing, for instance, it had ended differently, with a Nazi regime in power? We live in moments but also within narratives that are not just the narratives of our own lives, but we live only in one moment of them at a time. Does it matter at what point in the story we no longer follow it, in terms of how we measure the happiness of a life? Is all there is to measure just the sum total of the moments in which we have lived, or can we only make sense of a life in terms of some larger meaning, and is the meaning necessarily formal, structured in terms of a narrative in which the ending plays a definitive part? (Answers in the comments please! (Would it make a difference to the meaning of my life should I die before or after reading the answer to my question?))
18/2/2022 10:40:39 am
The meaning of a life and timing of a life surely depends on the nature of a reality, and the beginning/ending of a life on the nature of beginning/ending? There must be more to life than just measuring the sum total of moments, there must (I have a strong unwordable feeling), just as there must be more to a beginning/end than just jotting a time and date on paper. There must be more to time than numbers (again, a strong feeling). I think it is entirely up to you whether there would be a difference to the meaning of your life should you die before or after reading the answer to your question. And what if you wrote the question after your death, or during? death being something that Paul describes in Corinthians as occurring daily. Would it make a difference then? Or if the person writing the answer had a different sense of reality and meaning, beginning and ending than you? I think bits of us are put to death and brought to life all the time, both consciously and unconsciously and in the spaces between consciousness and unconsciousness. And the happiness of a life, measuring that, again, surely it depends on your perception and experience of your story and happiness. We share moments and narratives and moments within narratives yes, but our experience of any one moment can be/often is drastically different to someone else’s experience of that moment, and story of that moment, and story of moments, and story of stories. I think this is all so very complex and great/confusing/chewy food for thought and I am certainly thinking and wondering as I am writing and thinking and wondering whether I really believe anything I am thinking and wondering and writing!!! This is not really an answer at all but perhaps the answer is that it isn’t possible for someone else to provide an answer. Perhaps you already know the answer. Perhaps your body already contains it...
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These are paragraphs without essays or books to go in.