Surviving vs. Living Fully

Humor is a way of holding off how awful life can be, to protect yourself. Finally, you get just too tired, and the news is too awful, and humor doesn’t work anymore. Somebody like Mark Twain thought life was quite awful but held the awfulness at bay with jokes and so forth, but finally he couldn’t do it anymore. His wife, his best friend, and two of his daughters had died. If you live long enough, a lot of people close to you are going to die.

~ Kurt Vonnegut


Joy has found me as I have pursued an adventurous life. Joy continues to find me. Love has found me as I expressed my respect for others via decent acts. Love continues to find me. Yet, as with most people, I desire more. As with most people in the “first” world, I desire more than I have earned.

I cannot undo being me. I cannot undo who I am. Living fully, seeking adventure, is what I do. A teacher is who I am.

My near-absence of free will, as with other animals, greatly constrains my path through life. My unwillingness to use my virtual absence of free will as an excuse — a “get-out-of-jail-free card” — keeps me on a respectful, loving path. Yet I desire more.

How much is enough? At what point will I be satiated? At what point will you be satisfied?

The idea of quality over quantity, for any individual, must be balanced by the pursuit of the common good. We must neither disrespect nor degrade others in our quest for adventure. Because we are alive, we take life (and lives). Yet the pursuit of decency asks us to strike a balance between our own, individual pursuits and the lives of others (including the lives of non-human organisms).

Put another way, when is barely surviving not enough for you? When does life become too miserable to continue? When does survival give way to indifference, as a result of the will to live being overcome by individual suffering?

Can you imagine a situation in which forced hospice is acceptable? Do you believe we are already living in such a situation in light of the COVID-19 pandemic?

The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic brings many questions with it. Where did the virus originate? We know it arose from the natural world, but was it spread intentionally? If so, then to what end? After all, a relatively minor reduction in industrial activity will trigger an attendant reduction in the aerosol masking effect sufficient to trigger an abrupt rise in global-average temperature, thereby accelerating the ongoing Mass Extinction Event (as I indicated in a recent, peer-reviewed article).

Additional questions come to mind. How long will the pandemic persist? What individuals have been infected? Do you have it? Do I have it? When, if ever, will society return to “normal”? Some of these questions matter to the continuation of contemporary society. Do they matter to you?

A second wave — or perhaps a peak — of the COVID-19 pandemic is expected, larger than the first wave, probably later this year (autumn in the Northern Hemisphere). One outcome of the first wave was the nearly complete collapse of the stock markets in the United States on 16 March 2020. Such a collapse is among several means by which habitat for humans might be lost as early as this year.

If there is such a thing as being in a great position as human extinction looms, then now is a great time to be in my position. Colleges and universities are not reopening later this year. More likely, they will never open again, although college and university administrators will not tell the truth about this issue (as with nearly all other issues). I cannot imagine campus life without going to campus. My life has always focused on relationships more than accomplishments. University life is unworthy without the human connection.

Are there preparatory measures we can take? What must we do, in anticipation of loss of habitat for humans on Earth? What must you do, in anticipation of loss of habitat for humans on Earth? What steps must you take to prepare for your own, individual death?

If aerosol masking has not been sufficiently reduced to cause an abrupt rise in global-average temperature with the first wave, then what about the second wave, which is expected to be larger than the first? And what about the third wave? Earth is, after all, in the midst of abrupt, irreversible climate change and also within the midst of a Mass Extinction Event.

Is this it? Will habitat for human animals disappear this year? If so, will your intellectual and emotional preparations suffice?

What, if anything, remains on your “bucket list”? Have you completed the important relationships in your life? Have you expressed your love for the relevant people? Are you ready to die? Are you pleased with the way you have lived?

I have pondered these questions for many years, to my great emotional benefit. There is no better time to ask these questions of yourself, and others.

So many questions. So little time.




Special Notification:

The 57-acre homestead I occupied in western Belize has been re-listed for sale (click here for listing). My partner, who owns the property, must spend time with her family in Florida. She is selling the homestead at a monetary loss to be closer to her family.


Recent peer-reviewed articles are listed below. A more comprehensive list is embedded here.

McPherson, Guy R. 2020. Earth is in the Midst of Abrupt, Irreversible Climate Change (pdf). Journal of Earth and Environmental Sciences Research 2(2).

McPherson, Guy R. 2020. Will COVID-19 Trigger Extinction of All Life on Earth? (pdf). Earth & Environmental Science Research & Reviews 3(2)2:73-74.

McPherson, Guy R. 2019. Going Halfway: Climate Reports Ignore the Full Evidence, and Therapists Ignore Grief Recovery. Clinical Psychology Forum 321:28-31.

McPherson, Guy R. 2019. Becoming Hope-Free: Parallels Between Death of Individuals and Extinction of Homo sapiens. Clinical Psychology Forum 317:8-11. The full paper is linked here.