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Monday, 10 April 2017

What is life?

When I was young my father told me a scary story that I've never forgotten. Today, I understand it and his story is at the heart of this question: what is life? My father was a barber/hairdresser who also had a peculiar additional task. He took care of dead people by shaving beards and cutting hairs. As a boy, I was flabbergasted. A dead person is still alive?? Indeed, the cells in dead people keep on living for days. (NRC, Open Biology)

The same question was also important in my 24 September 2016 blog on organ donation. Brain dead people are alive, like you and me. Brain death is not a well-defined medical term. Removing the organs of brain dead people causes pain, especially without anaesthesia. Not using anaesthesia on brain dead people keeps their organs in a better condition for the people receiving them. The pain expressed on the faces of brain dead people is shocking to their family.

One of the Dutch political parties has a plan to allow Dutch people to end their lives when these people deem that their life is complete. Basically, it's euthanasia for people who are not terminally ill. Even the Dutch medical profession is against this plan as it may easily derail. Is a broken heart enough reason, or a bankruptcy? When is someone’s life complete? Age is an arbitrary line in this discussion and could legally be considered as ageist (similar to sexist).

Several weeks ago, my ex partner claimed that I do not have a life. Apparently, this situation is also possible when you are still alive, not sick, and you do not consider your own life as complete. Her remark was one of the reasons for writing my 24 February 2017 blog: You can only hurt someone with the truth. I don't think, feel or believe that I do not have a life. To the contrary even. On most days, my life is beautiful.

Each of the 7 Belief systems (i.e., Love, Money, Philosophy, Politics, Religion, Science and the Truth) has a different view on this question: What is life? Some of these views have already been implicitly mentioned in the above paragraphs. There is no universal Truth to the question "What is life?" because the question is “wrong”.

Any answer to this question must first follow the Why question as everything follows Why. Without having a purpose in life, life may easily become irrelevant. “Nothing” is the obvious answer to a meaningless life that is asking: What is life? Life is what you make of it and the 7 Belief systems guide you to a belief, a meaning, a purpose.

I think, feel and believe that Change always affects our lives, and also that our beliefs, meaning and purpose change over Time. Our beliefs, meaning and purpose may also vary per situation (Space), and may change following the People we meet. I’m less sure about a change of the Why. My life has always been about helping other people. Today, I am using my writing as a tool.

My own answer to "What is life?" is in the title of a 1985 Talk Talk song: Life's what you make it. I couldn't agree more.

Life's What You Make It (1985) by Talk Talk - artists, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2

Life's what you make it - celebrate it
Anticipate it - yesterday's faded.
Nothing can change it - life's what you make it.