Knowing the future…

Imagine there was a facility in the world which could tell us all the date of our future death. Now imagine you could choose whether to avail of this facility or not. Would you?

We were posed this question when I was a philosophy undergraduate in college years ago, and I was reminded of it today at the funeral of a man I knew quite well, a friend of my Dad’s.

During the eulogy, his son told the congregation that this man’s 56th birthday was a particularly significant event for him, because none of the other three males in his immediate family – his father and two brothers – made it past this age. However we also heard of a full and well-lived life, of many achievements and adventures, exploits and escapades.

And it was then that I thought of the question in the opening paragraph of this blog, as I wondered if somehow the richness of his life was linked to a possible idea somewhere in his head that he might not be here as long as most others. If a suspicion that he might leave this world early – like his father and brothers did – led him to live his life to the fullest.

I could well be completely wrong and this man may have lived just as complete a life if his father and brothers had lived longer, but it certainly made me think.

If we knew we were going to die tomorrow, would we live today differently?

If we knew we were going to die next year, would we live this year differently?

The answer to both questions for most, I would venture, is yes.

So maybe it’s worth thinking about the changes we would make, and then since this crystal ball facility mentioned above will probably never exist, think about making them anyway?