Living your best life: an inspiring essay by a philosopher is full of wisdom about reimagining our relationship with time.
I recently read a fine essay on “Three ideas for how to live a fuller life” by Roman Krznaric on the BBC website. It focused on “reimagining our relationship with time” in order to come to terms with death. It then offered three ways to do that.
The dinner part of the afterlife
You’re having dinner with all the other ‘yous’. These are the people you could have been, if you had made different choices in life. Which of them is most charismatic, interesting, or admirable?
Whakapapa is a Maori concept for lineage. Imagine a child you care about, years ahead, when she or he is aged 90. Then imagine someone placing a tiny baby into their arms – and the 90-year-old imagining what the baby will need to thrive in the decades ahead – well into the 22nd Century. Moral: if you can transcend the “now” and think about generations before and after you, it will give you a sense of perspective about what matters.
A longer now
Consider a 200-million-year-old fossil or a star whose light left its source before humans evolved. Consider yourself – or humanity – as a blink in the five billion year history of the earth.
‘As we busily swipe our phones and click the ‘Buy Now’ button, let us pause a moment,’ Krznaric writes, ‘and open our imaginations to a longer now. That is how we begin the journey beyond death. That is how we become good ancestors.’
References: Stapledon and Adams
Krznaric’s admirable piece reminded me of two other works:
- Last and First Men by Olaf Stapledon – a history of humankind’s next two billion years, written in 1930. I read it as a teenager and found it mind-blowing in its ambition. So did many science fiction writers including HP Lovecraft, Arthur C Clarke, CS Lewis and Brian Aldiss;
- The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’s “Total Perspective Vortex“: ‘if life was going to live in such a vast Universe, one thing it could not afford was to have a sense of perspective’.
If you’re interested in philosophical issues and happiness, do have a look at my Existential Questions – and women category (links in bold italics are to other posts on this blog), or see my post How to be happy: 16 great posts to browse.