Here’s the thing: It’s getting late.
When a person starts thinking of how long he has left, he starts asking himself a lot of questions. Naturally, one thinks there are some things one might like to do a little differently. What exactly is the purpose of some of this extraneous knowledge we carry around? Do I really need to know how many licks it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop? And if so, what other information is being crowded out by including that little fact? The neurons are limited. Sometimes I worry I’m nearing capacity.
Or maybe I’ve already surpassed capacity and now I’m in the phase of overwriting, replacing the once essential information I once carried, for new–and one hopes, better–things. Some experiences will be lost forever as I gain memories of new ones. It’s like all those other books I’ve forgotten I have to read because of all the new ones crowding them out.
There’s no escaping this process while you’re living. Everything is information and everything is an experience. It’s the quality of these things that matters. So when you’re evaluating the stuff of your life, I think a good question to ask is, “Of what value is this stuff I carry?”
You can’t take it with you, you know. Oh, you’ve heard?
But you can leave a lot behind. And I guess just now that thought is making me wonder what I’ll want later generations to have as mementoes. You know. Statues crumble. Paintings fade. Books gather dust. Ah…but the Internet is forever.
I’m only partly kidding. Consider it for a moment. Your grandchildren could be reading your old blog someday. All our gathering information and experiences assumes there’s something greater, more significant, valuable, enjoyable, worthwhile to do with it all. For writers, writing makes the experiences worth the effort. For artists, art. For musicians, music. But even for those who simply live to feel good, there’s some hope of preserving the life they’ve lived. And I suppose if we all wrote like Shakespeare we might have that option open to us, but I’m willing to bet that very little will be treasured (or able to be trasured after it’s aged) from the physical world. Maybe we’re a ways away from the hyperbaric chambers and head plugs (or maybe we’re not), but we all want to escape the “curse” of being human and no one wants to have to die to do it. This little bit of information sells a lot of books, movies, drugs, houses, food, cars, sex, and webspace. You might even say it’s the idea that makes the world go ’round.
None of us will live to see the end of this date with destiny, but you’d better believe that the information and experiences you gather matter. So the last questions I’ve been asking myself recently are, how late is it for me? And would I be doing something else if I knew?