Life is limited but this does not negate its potential for value or meaning. The very limit to life is what enables us to give our lives value and meaning.
If no one ever died, there would also be no particular value to one’s life or individual moments in it. After all, you’re going to live forever. So, why treasure any given moment? Why think that there is anything particularly special about any given moment?
More than that, there would be no urgency or even very much reason to do anything if no one ever died. Knowing you had an infinite amount of time would likely lead many people to do nothing figuring they could always do whatever they were thinking about doing later. And, they could. But, this possibility would lead to many negative results. Among them: boredom, loss of motivation, loss of interest in friendship, love, life itself. After all, there’s just so much of it!
On the other hand, the fact that you are going to die and the fact that you only have so much time to embrace life means you’d better do something with it while you have it. It’s the only chance you have to: experience, love, wonder, think, ask questions, learn, build friendships, embrace others, experience nature, and on and on. But, there is an end to it so it makes sense to get to it now.
The biologist Richard Dawkins offers an interesting, and perhaps helpful, perspective in his book Unweaving the Rainbow: "We are going to die, and that makes us the lucky ones. Most people are never going to die because they are never going to be born." You have been fortunate beyond belief in being alive. Also, you have been fortunate to be alive in a time when so many things are possible. But, your time is limited.
Questions like this about death implicitly seem to be questioning the very possibility of meaning in life which makes me think of the work of Viktor Frankl. He was an Austrian psychiatrist and holocaust survivor who wrote extensively about the importance of meaning. His approach, called logotherapy, is based on the idea that the central feature of human existence is the quest for meaning.
According to Frankl “We can discover this meaning in life in three different ways: (1) by creating a work or doing a deed; (2) by experiencing something or encountering someone; and (3) by the attitude we take toward unavoidable suffering" and that "everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances.” (Viktor Frankl Institute of Logotherapy)
It is up to you to discover the meaning in your life. This can be done despite death and suffering. It can only be discovered in light of these things. Perhaps it’s a paradox but that is how life is.
Perhaps this Alan Watts video will help:
KEVIN J. BROWNE
Philosopher / Educator