If you have the luxury of a slow, and not sudden demise, will you look back on your life and be satisfied?
Will moments flash before your eyes and leave you feeling whole and content? Will you see your family, your achievements, your pets?
Or will you see opportunities that slipped by you? Lost loves and lost careers, lost friends and family?
I hope that it is the former and not the latter. But I’m writing this to give you perspective.
Eventually, you will be forgotten. It might take ten years, it might take one thousand. But eventually, every detail about your life will drift away like so much dust in a breeze. That’s not all. One day, humanity will be forgotten.
It’s easy to forget that we have been around as a species for roughly sixty thousand years (in our current species that is) which, when you consider it on any scale apart from ones we use, is nothing. It is a blip on the radar of the universe.
In a few billion years the sun will expand into a red giant and Earth will be scorched and sterilised before it is swallowed. In a few more billion years the Milky Way, a comfortable home galaxy, will collide with Andromeda, our neighbour.
And yes, whilst this interaction will probably not harm our solar system at all (space is very big and even two galaxies colliding is unlikely to bother our sun), will it matter?
Will humanity even be around in that long? I doubt it. And if we are it won’t be as Homo Sapiens.
So let’s make some huge assumptions.
- Humanity has survived to evolve into a form that can survive within the vast reaches of space.
- We have spread out in this new form and are now exist across hundreds of worlds, bathed by the light of hundreds of stars.
- We continue to evolve and exists all the while avoiding a catastrophe that will wipe us out.
And even then, one day, trillions of years in the future, entropy will win and the Universe will go dark (or snap back in on itself, or be destroyed by a bubble of true vacuum).
Nothing, no matter how advanced, no matter how faithful or dedicated to surviving, will survive it.
The Universe will end.
Everything that ever existed will cease to exist and memory of it will die on that day.
But does that mean you shouldn’t care about your life? That you shouldn’t try and cherish every single day?
The Universe will end but your life, while you are living it, is the most important thing in the cosmos. You are important, to someone you are the whole world, even if you don’t realise it, even if at times it feels like you’re already at the end, already drifting in the black, surrounded by nothing but stars and vacuum.
When you look back on your life, or when you look forward and imagine what your life could be, I hope you think about the end of the Universe and how, despite that, despite the scale of the cosmos and how small we truly are, you are the most important person in it and you can effect change on a scale far larger than yourself.