Death is a central feature of every human life. As we live, we know that we will die.

an understanding of your permanent mortality should help you to realize more clearly how precious your life is. If you live to be 82 years old, what you have is approximately 30,000 days of existence. You are not going to then commute to "heaven" to live for eternity. 30,000 days is all that you've got.

Here are some of the things in your thinking that will change once you understand and accept this simple fact Your time on earth becomes much more precious to you. You begin to realize that everyone else's life is just as precious, and you start looking at them differently. You think more about what you are leaving behind when you die. You think more about the human species as a continuum, with yourself as a part of that continuum, and you start thinking about the future of our species and the planet. Like it or not, your total experience is here on earth. That realization should make you see a day wasted in line at the Department of Motor Vehicles, or a week wasted preparing your taxes for the IRS, a little differently. All that you have is 30,000 days. Everyone who wastes your time -- every bureaucracy, every long line at the store -- should give you pause.

When you die, what is your legacy? What do you leave behind? Whatever material objects you own, to be given to whomever you like in your will. Whatever contributions you have made to society as a whole. If you have done research into the cure for cancer, you leave that. If you have written books or made movies, you leave them. If you funded a building at your university, you leave that. Images of you in photographs and video, as well as any letters, writings or recordings. Your children and their memories of you. The memories you leave with your friends and family.

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Comment by high_jinx on August 16, 2010 at 3:32pm
The meaning of your individual life is bounded by the accomplishments of our species. Although each of our lives is fleeting, our species as a whole is a chain stretching back thousands of years and stretching forward for an unknown distance. You are one link in that chain. Each of us contributes to the world. Our children inherit the world that we create.

What is the meaning of life? It is about loving and being loved. It is about helping and being helped. It is about giving and receiving, asking and accepting. It is about working with other people and allowing them to work with you. Life is about dreaming of something better, and then making it happen. For all of us now. For our children in the future. Life's meaning is about what we do today and tomorrow with the time we have available. It comes in thinking about that time -- that precious moment that is your life -- and making the most of it in a way that is unique to you. Together we create the path of our species.

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