Waiting for death to come

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Waiting for death to come

Postby Q. C. Locatus Barbatus on Wed Apr 20, 2005 7:20 pm

Salvete,

Maybe it does sound a bit frightning, but I think it is. Is our life nothing more than waiting for death to come? I often think about this, and every time I have to realize that every second that passes, e.g. the seconds I use to write this, the seconds that you use to read this, we are closer to death. It makes me shiver when I think that death is the fate that still comes closer. I would like to discuss about this. Are you afraid of death? Is life just waiting for death?

Wouldn't it be so much better if we knew the exact date on which we would die? Than you would have the chance to plan your life, live the days you have, and know how long you can postpone things, when you have to spend all that is left to you, to know when you have to leave the other people their life and no longer interfere? Just a thought...

Valete,

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Postby Curio Agelastus on Thu Apr 21, 2005 10:33 am

I don't think life is simply a matter of waiting for death; it's a matter of diverting oneself from the prospect of death. Our entire life is a huge distraction, an attempt to save ourselves from the ignominy of boredom. Every time you play a sport or a game, every time you're reading a book, watching a tv show, chatting with friends or family - you're simply passing the time.

I think it would be horrendous if we knew the day of our death. Leaving aside the question of fate, think about those people ordained to die young. They would have to be very strong to come to terms with their short lifespans, and to make as much as possible of the days given to them. For the rest of us, life would be reduced to a list of things to do before we died... No, I definitely prefer not to know when my time is... Even though I don't believe I have a time - I believe that our deaths are pure chance...
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Postby Q Valerius on Thu Apr 21, 2005 11:07 pm

"To sleep, perchance, to dream, ay, there's the rub
for in that sleep of death what dreams may come" - W. Shakespeare

"One short sleepe past, wee wake eternally
And death shall be no more, death, thou shalt die." - J. Donne

Death is inevitable, of course, and worrying about it does no good. After we die, all our lives are washed away in our minds, and our memories erased. Thus we should not live for ourselves, or even merely to keep yourself occupied from idleness, but plan in advance your actions that will better humanity. Though once you've fallen asleep permanently, it matters not, but woe is the selfish man who could have held out his hand to help a neighbour, and did not. That is life.
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Postby Quintus Pomponius Atticus on Thu Apr 21, 2005 11:29 pm

Salve Locate,

Maybe it does sound a bit frightning, but I think it is. Is our life nothing more than waiting for death to come?


Life is nothing in itself, except its naked biological facts that are shared by all human beings. It is only what you think about it and what you want to do with it that matters. If you can be enthousiastic about (certain aspects of) life - and sometimes this is something that needs to be (and can be) learned or actively tried ! - , it is worth the trouble, if you see in it only the negatives, it appears not to be.

I often think about this, and every time I have to realize that every second that passes, e.g. the seconds I use to write this, the seconds that you use to read this, we are closer to death. It makes me shiver when I think that death is the fate that still comes closer. I would like to discuss about this. Are you afraid of death? Is life just waiting for death?


I wish to answer to this question with two long quotes :

Lin Yutang, on p. 37 ff. of his 'The Importance of Living wrote:I suspect that all democracy, all poetry, and all philosophy start out from this God-given fact that all of us, princes and paupers alike, are limited to a body of five or six feet and live a life of fifty or sixty years. On the whole, the arrangement is quite handy. We are neither too long nor too short. At least I am quite satisfied with five feet four. And fifty or sixty years seems to me such an awfully long time; it is, in fact, a matter of two or three generations. It is so arranged that when we are born, we see certain old grandfathers, who die in the course of time, and when
we become grandfathers ourselves, we see other tiny tots being born. That seems to make it just perfect.
[...]
Thus I see both poetry and philosophy began with the recognition of our mortality and a sense of the evanescence of time. This sense of life's evanescence is back of all Chinese poetry, as well as of a good part of Western poetry the feeling that life is essentially but a dream, while we row, row our boat down the river in the sunset of a beautiful afternoon, that flowers cannot bloom forever, the moon waxes and wanes, and human life itself joins the eternal procession of the plant and animal worlds in being born, growing to maturity and dying to make room for others. Man began to be philosophical only when he saw the vanity of this earthly existence. Chuangtse said that he once dreamed of being a butterfly, and while he was in the dream, he felt he could flutter his wings and everything was real, but that on waking up, he realized that he was Chuangtse and Chuangtse was real. Then he thought and wondered
which was really real, whether he was really Chuangtse dreaming of being a butterfly, or really a but-terfly dreaming of being Chuangtse. Life, then, is really a dream, and we human beings are like travelers floating down the eternal river of time, embarking at a certain point and disembarking again at another point in order to make room for others waiting below the river to come aboard. Half of the poetry of life
would be gone, if we did not feel that life was either a dream, or a voyage with transient travelers, or merely a stage in which the actors seldom realized that they were playing their parts.


Seneca., Ep. I wrote:CONTINUE to act thus, my dear Lucilius - set yourself free for your own sake; gather and save your time, which till lately has been forced from you, or filched away, or has merely slipped from your hands. Make yourself believe the truth of my words, - that certain moments are torn from us, that some are gently removed, and that others glide beyond our reach. The most disgraceful kind of loss, however, is that due to carelessness. Furthermore, if you will pay close heed to the problem, you will find that the largest portion of our life passes while we are doing ill, a goodly share while we are doing nothing, and the whole while we are doing that which is not to the purpose. What man can you show me who places any value on his time, who reckons the worth of each day, who understands that he is dying daily? For we are mistaken when we look forward to death+; the major portion of death has already passed, Whatever years be behind us are in death's hands. Therefore, Lucilius, do as you write me that you are doing: hold every hour in your grasp. Lay hold of to-day's task, and you will not need to depend so much upon to-morrow's. While we are postponing, life speeds by. Nothing, Lucilius, is ours, except time. We were entrusted by nature with the ownership of this single thing, so fleeting and slippery that anyone who will can oust us from possession. What fools these mortals be! They allow the cheapest and most useless things, which can easily be replaced, to be charged in the reckoning, after they have acquired them; but they never regard themselves as in debt when they have received some of that precious commodity, - time! And yet time is the one loan which even a grateful recipient cannot repay. You may desire to know how I, who preach to you so freely, am practising. I confess frankly: my expense account balances, as you would expect from one who is free-handed but careful. I cannot boast that I waste nothing, but I can at least tell you what I am wasting, and the cause and manner of the loss; I can give you the reasons why I am a poor man. My situation, however, is the same as that of many who are reduced to slender means through no fault of their own: every one forgives them, but no one comes to their rescue. What is the state of things, then? It is this: I do not regard a man as poor, if the little which remains is enough for him. I advise you, however, to keep what is really yours; and you cannot begin too early. For, as our ancestors believed, it is too late to spare when you reach the dregs of the cask. Of that which remains at the bottom, the amount is slight, and the quality is vile.


Wouldn't it be so much better if we knew the exact date on which we would die? Than you would have the chance to plan your life, live the days you have, and know how long you can postpone things, when you have to spend all that is left to you, to know when you have to leave the other people their life and no longer interfere? Just a thought...


In this matter, I for once concede to the famous saying "Ignorance is bliss". If knowing that we are going to die already fills you with anxiety, how much more would it frustrate you if you already knew the date of your parting ?

Vale optime,
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Postby Quintus Aurelius Orcus on Fri Apr 22, 2005 11:05 am

Salve Locate

Maybe it does sound a bit frightning, but I think it is. Is our life nothing more than waiting for death to come? I often think about this, and every time I have to realize that every second that passes, e.g. the seconds I use to write this, the seconds that you use to read this, we are closer to death. It makes me shiver when I think that death is the fate that still comes closer. I would like to discuss about this. Are you afraid of death? Is life just waiting for death?


The only certainties in life is that we are born and that we die. What happens between, is up to us to decide how we fill the time. It might be grimm, but the destiny on Earth is death. Everything that lives dies. The Oracle in Matrix Revolutions said something that is true: everything that has a beginning has an end. In the end it doesn't matter how you fill the time between your birth and your death, but that you fill it with life, you live your life to the fullest. Because that is all what there is too life.

Wouldn't it be so much better if we knew the exact date on which we would die? Than you would have the chance to plan your life, live the days you have, and know how long you can postpone things, when you have to spend all that is left to you, to know when you have to leave the other people their life and no longer interfere? Just a thought...


I don't know. Everyone would react differently to knowing it. If you knew that in a eyar from now you would die because of a disease or accident, would you still be interested in going on with your life?
Everyone fears death because nobody really knows for a certainty what happens next. Not everyone would do that. People with terminal disease have to deal with this everyday. That is not easy to do that, knowing that every day, every second could be your last. For terminal patients this is more reality than with anyone else. Attice is right, ignorance is bliss concerning this question. If we all knew our dates of death, than it wouldn't take long for society to crumble down. Most people would not want to participate in society to keep it going and than you would have people who would kill themselves because the waiting to the day you die and knowing that you would die is worser than not knowing it when it might occur.
vale

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Postby Gnaeus Dionysius Draco on Tue Apr 26, 2005 2:43 pm

Salve Locate et salvete alii,

Interesting topic, I'll read it more in detail when I have time.

However, for now let me change the question and backfire it: would a pessimist not say life is merely waiting for death because they are, in fact, afraid to live?

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Postby Quintus Aurelius Orcus on Tue Apr 26, 2005 9:26 pm

Salve Draco

Good question, the answer is not easy I'm affraid. I think it depends on the pessimist wether or not they would be affraid to live. I like to think that not all pessimists are alike, but that each pessimist is different from the nest one.
Even if they are affraid of living, how would they go on with their life? I don't know the statistics of suicide among pessimists, but I doubt it will be high. Even if they are affraid of life, they would be more affraid of dying than to live. They would go on with their lives.
Believe it or not, but I consider myself to be a optimistic pessimist. :) Yeah you read it correctly.
vale

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Postby Horatius Piscinus on Wed Apr 27, 2005 11:35 pm

Locate, was Berlin such a dismal place to evoke such thoughts in a man so young as you? When I was young and had friends and family die around me, I did not obsess about death as much as you do. Next time try Paris and see if your angst is any different.
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Postby Curio Agelastus on Thu Apr 28, 2005 1:01 am

Salvete omnes,

Draco: Speaking as a pessimist, I don't think pessimism is a fear of life; merely a belief that life always has worse things to throw at you - a tendency to distrust, a tendency not to believe in the goodness of mankind - a tendency, in short, to look on the dark side of things. But there is no fear of life there.

Quinte: Exactly, pessimism isn't necessarily a belief that death is the only option, or that life is completely absymal.

Piscine: I don't understand this (admittedly quite common) belief that the young are rarely pessimistic nor cynical. From my experience I've noticed both ways of thinking to be quite prevalent in the young, for better or worse.

Bene valete,
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Postby Horatius Piscinus on Thu Apr 28, 2005 1:41 pm

Salve Curio

I said nothing about pessimism or cynicism. Many of the younger people I know are pessimists, and usually with good reason. But Locatus' obsession with death, as this is not the only time he has brought up this subject, seems a bit odd to me. A change of atmosphere, away from the books and computers, and instead out dancing might do him good. Berlin didn't improve his disposition, Paris may not either, then he should try Prague or Barcelonia, explore life before he becomes weary of it.

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Postby Q. C. Locatus Barbatus on Thu May 05, 2005 1:59 pm

Oh, Berlin was quite nice, and the life over there is phantastic. Although things like WWII and the wall makes you think sometimes...
Paris won't help either, I visit Paris about three times a year, and although it is a beuatiful city, it doesn't help in clearing my mind.

Maybe the answer is easier: in summer I finish my studies, I have to look for a home and a job. It makes you think about what is awaiting you. And only one thing is certain: death. But I hope some nice stuff comes before that :wink: .

I saw a lot of people dying when I was a teenager (not that long ago), and I got quite obsessed by it, realising it is a fate we can't escape. I saw (oh well see, I luckily wasn't there at the moment they actually died) all my grandparents die before I was 14, I saw my aunt dying here in my home (unfortunately I was there when she actually died), I saw another aunt dying in hospital, I saw a friend dying, ... . I'm not really obsessed, and a lot of people unfortunately have seen worse, but I realized that death is a part of life, of your own life, but also of life in general. It makes you think.

Yes, I'm pessimistic and sometimes cynical (that's a way to flee, being cynical, and it helps to relativate things), but it is not hard to see why: in the 23 years I'm on this planet, I haven't seen much more than people fighting for money. Battles are (or were) going on in Israel, Iraq, Somalia, Zimbabwe, Congo, Yugoslavia, Tibet, Kuwait, tchetchenia, Ivory coast, ... . Aids is a major problem in Africa, Asia and South America. After the USSR, America thinks it rules the world, giving the others no more right to say what they think, muslim terrorists are killing innocent people all around the globe, but other religions are reacting by doing the samen (jews, christians).
Although these horrible facts, life is good here in Europe, we don't have a struggle for life anymore, we have social security, water, food, jobs, etc. But... the poor here are forgotten, and the people who could live a happy life are voting for extremely-right fascist parties, thus killing the last bit of solidarity that rested us.
And this last fact irritates me most of all. Why can't we just be good for each other, why can't we just support each other?

Back to the point: I think it would be good to know the time of our death, if I were to die the 27th of March 2012 e.g., I knew I better wouldn't have kids, I could work until 2010 and than spend all my money on things I liked, having fun, and the last month being afraid enormously. I would have the time to say goodbye to friends, to thank parents for what they have done, to forgive my enemies. And to stop my cellphone-contract on time :wink: .

Vale!

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Postby Quintus Aurelius Orcus on Thu May 05, 2005 8:35 pm

Salve Locate

Death is the only certainty we have in life, but the main problem with it is that no one knows when it will take place unless when you have a fatal disease or planning on commiting suicide.
Look, we share some similarities. During the last 10 years of my life my grandparents died. I don't have any grandparents anymore, one of my friends have passed away 2 years ago when he wanted to swim after doing a huge excercise and died when he jumped in the water.
Sometimes I'm pessimistic too, but I'm also critical. If you look at the world as it is today, it sucks to live in and wonder what kind of future the next generation will have. What happens in the world is not entirly our fault, but we can try to change it.
You say that this is the way you would react to it, but I can tell you right now that that would not be the way you would react to it. No one can say for sure how they would react to it because nobody can say for sure what they will do when they find out how much time they have left. Upon facing death, no one can say for sure what they will do or how they will do it. But we do know that fear will be part of how we react to our death, because every living thing on this planet fears death the most when it comes closer.
vale

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