My friend and I were watching the season finale of the tv show House tonight and we started talking about whether or not we would want to know if we were going to die in a few hours. The topic came up as the character Amber lay in the hospital unconscious, death inevitable, with the last opportunity for her friends to reawaken her for a few more hours.
Most people, given this question, say they wouldn’t want to be woken up. What’s the point? This is what my friend believes. He didn’t understand at first why I answered different, that I would want to be woken back up if even for only such a short amount of time.
To me, we are special in all of the known universe in that we are conscious. There are other conscious species on our own world, but they are few and far between. Only a handful can even arguably be said to be as self-aware and experience emotions as we do. Cetaceans, some of the great apes, and elephants. As conscious animals, we are collectively few and far between. This makes us all special.
For me, the chance to be aware of the world is more important than nearly anything else. If I only had one more chance to be awake, I want those last few hours to be able to breathe, think, and be able to remember. When my body gives out and the remarkable chemistry of my brain that has given me the ability to be me fails, there’s no mythical place that my consciousness goes. I am a product of the physical world that created me, and when those physical processes no longer work I am gone. The last few hours and minutes of life should be cherished for the special moments that they are.
No, I’m not dying. But our conversation was something that made me think, and I think it was worth sharing.