Friday, January 11, 2013

Hedonism and Mortality

My cat Scoundrel died today. A companion of 16 years he lead a life full of mischief earning his name early on from the trouble he’d get into. It’s a sad day to think he’s no longer with us, but he leaves us with a lot of happy moments. His was a life well lived.

Some people think that our lives cannot have much meaning or purpose if we are mortal beings, that our end, our transience, make our lives insignificant. I believe otherwise. The fact that our lives are limited by time or circumstances are many ways makes what we do with those limitations all the more important.

Think about it, were we immortal, not limited in any ways, would our choices really matter? Whatever experience we collect, we could always collect more, try different approaches, professions, friends, lovers, etc. We could never really take a risk. Whatever choices were made could always be revisited in the endlessness of time.

Our lives take place in the continuous moment of turning possibility into history. When we make mistakes, we must learn from them quickly, or more often than not find ways to embrace them. Our choices define us as we create our own meaning. It’s that static legacy that lives on after we are gone. It’s that end that makes every small thing we do all so important. There is no chance to do it again.

Nietzsche had a concept of eternal recurrence, the idea that we are forced to live out our lives endlessly in the same exact way each time. It was a sort of thought experiment, would we face that concept with dread? If so, then we should change the way we lead our life.

So whether or not, he crossed the “rainbow bridge” or is creating mischief in kitty heaven, I will miss my dear Scoundrel. But I will also appreciate his unique soul, the time we spent together, and the memories he leaves me with. He made a difference to me and had a tremendously valuable life.