It is a very basic question to ask, one that I don’t believe very many people question that often… if ever. Where do we get our life value? This is a separate question from ‘what is our purpose’, which is more of the root question. But when you ask about strictly “value”, you get into a hotbed of all sorts of ideology. “Who are you to judge me and put a value on my life?!” You might say. Fair enough. But who are you to not question it about yourself?
I’ve asked this question to several friends of mine and they all seem to spit out the same answer; family, friends, and religion are pretty much the exclusive three responses. But this still isn’t going deep enough (inception anyone?). Jokes aside, the value of your life is NOT family, friends or religion… because I could see someone in the world living a very happy life without any of those three items. So I’ll ask you again, what is the one true thing in every single human life that makes everyone worth something?
And no the answer is not that it’s different for everyone. The answer is time, or lack there of of it. Seems simple and mundane and almost cliché which is why some of you probably stopped reading after the end of that last sentence, but hear me out.
Everything great in this world, EVERYTHING, is great because we die. Am I being pessimistic, no, I’m being the opposite. Think about it on the extreme side. If we were impervious to death, what would be exciting? Where would the value come from in accomplishing something great when you virtually have an unlimited amount of time to accomplish it? What would the level of love be towards your family if you knew they were always going to be around? What about looking back on years past, you wouldn’t be able to quaintly remember the carelessness of your childhood or the years of your college prime because the aging process would not exist. Exist, that’s a funny word, because without death, all you would be doing is existing… instead of living.
Time is the currency of life. And that cannot be refuted.
The reason we have value in our lives is solely because our head is ‘on the chopping block’, so to speak. Because our time is limited on this planet means that every decision we make will unequivocally alter the path and the final position of our lives. It doesn’t mean that there is no room for mistake in your decisions, it just means that every decision is an important one… even the ones that seem terribly mundane like if I should ride my bike to work or drive to work. Or if I should call that girl I’ve been thinking about or wait. Or if I should apologize to a friend for borrowing his book without asking.
Obviously, religion is a huge factor in how people view life and death. For many religious, the purpose and meaning of life is to worship the lord. Which is a completely valid purpose if that is what you believe in. On the other hand, atheists and agnostics believe that they are more at peace with knowing there is nothing after death. To them, it puts more worth on life itself because the end of life is more (shall we say) “final”. Which brings my argument to greater light… humans, in general, find worth in life the more they realize time is against them.
Take a terminally ill patient, for example. How many stories/movies/books/magazines/tv shows/etc. have you seen that depict a terminally ill patient going out and having the time of their life? The list is endless, I think the show House probably has 15+ episodes with just such a story line. Why do people have the urge to go out and make something of their life? Because they have a heightened sense of imminent death. Can you imagine what you would do with your life and what you might accomplish if you had such a heightened sense of imminent death? It would be unbelievably rich. The time you spend with your family, friends, partner, would be beyond simply love. Everything exciting you do would be infinitely more cherished. The little things in life would already mean more to you than ever before.
Every person has stakes in the game of life and it all revolves around the time you have on Earth. Every person believes in their own reason or purpose for existing but until you understand the value of it and why the value of your life only exists because you will eventually die, then you might as well not have a purpose. If I were given the option to live forever, or even simply to live well into the future, I would politely decline; It would suck the value out of the actual living part of existing. Death is more connected to life than anything else, so live it up, and make yourself worth something. So use the time you have such that when you get to the dying part of life, you’ll be able to look back and say, “yup, that was worth it”.
Please, leave a comment if you agree or want to share your views on where we get our value.