Would you rather...

Live a long, fulfilled, satisfying–but not remarkable or world-changing–life and die around age 85…


Live a brief, troubled, but brilliantly impacting life that leaves the world remembering your name in history books for years to come–and die at age 30? (Thinking about Princess Di led me to this question, not that I think her life was “brilliant,” but it was impacting no less. Also, I’m reading Into The Wild, which chronicles an idealistic young man who died living anything but an ordinary life.)

I’ll 'fess up first: I’ve outgrown my need to have the world love and remember me. Impact on the global level is no longer as important to me as impact on the personal level. So, the long, fulfilled life is where I’d go.

“My cat’s breath smells like cat food.” --Ralph Wiggum, hero and icon

When I was 20 I would’ve said the latter. Now that I’m 35 I’d rather do the former.

First option. Not that it matters, as I’m never going to die, but theoretically speaking…

Veni, Vidi, Visa … I came, I saw, I bought.

Can’t I have a full and impacting life, and still live to be 85? I’m doomed to live into my 90’s anyways. The running joke in my family is that all the women live into their 90’s, and the men usually drop dead in their 40’s or 50’s, not that us women had anything to do with that :slight_smile:


I’ll take one from column A and one from column B.

Actually, the first. And even better, I’d like to have this information up front, so I can relax!


This is a non-smoking area. If we see you smoking, we will assume you are on fire and act accordingly.

I’ve got a good start on the first part, something that I find more and more amazing every day. I used to want to do something (one thing) really excellently and leave a mark rather than a lot of things pretty well and leave no mark. Now, however, I know myself and am content.

As I think on the people we consider genius of some sort (Van Gogh, Beethoven, Mozart, etc), they all seem to have this tragic vein, their muse ruling them.

The first. I only have nine years to work on the second one, anyway.

Hope I die before I get old…

I never want to act as I see some (hey, I said some) older people acting - afraid of the world, afraid of change, afraid of difference, long given up on their lives, and hating every minute of the day.
Let me go before I reach that stage, but better yet, let me live long with a sense of humor and I’ll get by.

I’ve often told myself that I’d rather live a short life I enjoyed, rather than a long life I didn’t enjoy.

But that’s not really what this thread is about.

So I definitely say the former. I have no desires to be famous in any way. I mean, who cares really?

“So what you are telling me, Percy, is that something you have never seen is slightly less blue than something else that you have never seen.”

Darn! I thought you were going to mention Alexander the Great, not Diana! (nothing against her, though)

Combine the two and live to be 120 through the help of Yoplait :slight_smile:

What does it matter? I’ve known my whole life I’ll die at age 23 anyway.


We are the children of the Eighties. We are not the first “lost generation” nor today’s lost generation; in fact, we think we know just where we stand - or are discovering it as we speak.

I don’t especially want to make a profound impact on the world or anything but I have to say living to an old age fills me with dread. I’m not exactly one of those “hooray for life” people so even if I died at 30 having not accomplished anything that would be ok with me. :slight_smile:

E1Skeptic–yeah, yeah, Diana isn’t exactly historical lore. But, they were talking about her on the radio station I was listening to, and they suggested she would have almost wanted it “this way,” what with the “legacy” and all. Yeah, 'cause everyone wants to bleed to death in a car accident.

Personally, I don’t get her appeal at all. Joan of Arc did more is less time. Heck, so did Jesus.

I used to want all the drama, rock-star, live fast-die young stuff, but having survived to 37, a nice long regular life seems just fine to me.

Also, having come about as close as one can to dying without actually doing it a few years back kind of took the shine off the whole dying young thing.


As long as I can choose the impact I’d have on the world… the latter.

Unless you’re Jesus, nobody is going to remember you in 2000 years. I’d choose the first option, because: 1) who cares if the world loves me? and 2) maybe a long, satisfying life is more world-changing in its own, subtle way than a short, blazing one that everyone notices. Like in “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

In the words of George Costanza: “I don’t want to be remembered. I want to be forgotten.”

So you live the brief, comet-like existence, acquiring great fame, talent and so-called immortality; you make James Dean look like Richard Kline; your contributions to the world of art, science or whatever will be remembered for eons to come and people will always say your name with great reverence…then you die…

Upon death you realize, compared to the greater universe, what a miserable, insignificant little crumb of bat dung planet Earth is and that all the fame and glory don’t really mean much. You sheephishly admit to yourself, “Jeez, I shoulda gone with the first option.”

“My hovercraft is full of eels.”