10/11/2016 02:16 EDT | Updated 10/11/2016 02:19 EDT

What Does It Mean To Have Lived A 'Good Life'?

Beautiful Woman Standing in the Sea Waves and Enjoying Sunshine with Open Arms. Double Exposure Filtered Photo with Bokeh.
brickrena via Getty Images
Beautiful Woman Standing in the Sea Waves and Enjoying Sunshine with Open Arms. Double Exposure Filtered Photo with Bokeh.

I have never been able to understand the concept when people say in real life, in a novel, or in a movie setting: "I lived a good life and now can die peacefully." Seriously? I really do admire people who can deliver that line, however I just cannot easily grasp the correlation between living a good life and the blind willingness to step into the dark abyss which no one has returned from.

The logic behind the suggestion of being fully prepared and content to cease existing, whether you led a good life or not is beyond my comprehension and somewhat eerie. It's not like you can pick up a "holiday brochure" and select a destination. And if you somehow do come across one, probably a limited edition, then look carefully and read the fine print. There will be an asterisk on top of each of the destinations you select, and when you look at the bottom of the page to figure out what that means, it will say "all bookings are for one way trips only." Do not expect to see any travellers' reviews either.

And if you are not into believing in some sort or form of afterlife, then it's probably even tougher for you to mention you led a good life and are ready to move on. Sure, move on, but where to? Remaining with the holiday analogy: good luck with trying to redeem your travel points once you arrive at your destination.

For a moment, let's leave the "living the good life" part aside and elaborate on the definition of life itself. How can you describe a few decades, no more than the fingers of your two hands as "life"? The world, the universe, the quantum universes, and the quantum of the quantum ones will continue existing for trillions of years, possibly infinite, so the life you proclaimed to have lived well, in its size, will not even come close to a grain of sand in a vast endless desert. All that time you will never be around. Well at least physically, depending on your beliefs.

Several decades ago, I read a story or an article, probably written by one of my favourite science fiction writers, that there are certain organisms which would flicker when observed under a microscope. Apparently those short bursts of light represent the entire life cycle of some particular living cells, including their birth, reproduction and death. Now if we were to stand in front of a rock that existed during the entire life time of our earth's billions of years past, and if that rock had eyes, wouldn't it see our whole life as a mere flicker?

I would define having lived a good life as what we ultimately did for the well-being of others, such as our families, friends, communities, and our future generations. We can extend our assessment further by asking ourselves how some of our actions contributed to making our world a better place to live in.

Did we really care when other people were in distress, and above all, did we do something about it?

Yes, that's what I will be thinking of in retrospect when my time comes.

I admit that I will find some solace if I could say to myself that I actually did manage to squeeze in some good deeds, here and there, into the few transient years I was around. I will also not deny that I am hoping by then, I would have steadfastly developed and strengthened my belief that there actually "is" a soul attributed to each man and woman on this planet, which will somehow release itself at that extraordinary and irrevocable moment, to ascend and progress peacefully and endlessly into some other exhilarating dimension.

Otherwise, what would be the purpose of living your life as a mere flicker?

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