Aug 292013

the-dude-white-russianRecently an acquaintance posted that she doesn’t make long-term plans because you never know when you might die. She could be gone next week, so she enjoys every day as much as possible without worrying about the future.

In practice, this means coasting by at a comfortable job, a lot of social activities in the evenings and weekends, a fair bit of recreation alcohol and marijuana use, lots of media consumption, no savings, and being really out of shape.

This is, at an objective level, a stupid thing to do. You probably won’t die next week, so taking care of your body, building up some savings, and doing something with your life are all really good ideas. More to the point – they actually feel better in the long term! You’re failing to enjoy every day as much as you could by focusing on immediate gratification because it’s not nearly as fulfilling.

But interestingly, I don’t think that her motivation is flawed. I am motivated by the exact same worry. I could die next week. And there are still so many things I need to do! The HPMoR podcast is incomplete. I haven’t had every sexual experience I’ve wanted to yet. I haven’t written a novel, and have only just started getting some of the stories I have bottled-up inside down on paper. There’s two dozen books on my must-read list that have been stagnating there for years, and dozens more waiting in the wings. I haven’t met most of the authors I idolize, and I haven’t visited a single city in Europe or Asia. I will die soon, and I have so much to do before then. I can’t get it all done fast enough.

So no, I can’t discourage the “you may die next week” mindset, because it motivates me to do more than simply abide. If all I did was lounge around enjoying myself I might as well never have lived at all.

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