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This week sucks. I’m underwater at work (and outside of it, since Chicago has decided to just keep winter going all year around and dump biblical amounts of rain all day, every day). Basically, I’m in a mood, which is why we’ve got a morbid question on our hands today. For those who don’t know, a “would you rather” is a choice between two equally hard options, where you have to pick the lesser of two evils. Then you can read my answer and see if you picked right, because I’m smarter and better than you. Here we go.
Would you rather: Know when you’re going to die OR know how you’re going to die?
That’s right. I’m making you come face to face with your own mortality on a Wednesday. Tough stuff. But before you can choose, you’ll need know the answers to some questions.
1. Can I do anything to avoid my death?
Nope. Just like taxes (and the San Jose Sharks breaking my heart every goddamn year) death is inevitable. It comes for us all. Whether you know when it happens or how it’ll go down, you can’t do a damn thing to change it. “Well then, why would I want to know at all?” You ask. You don’t. This isn’t a “which would you prefer, or if you prefer neither, that’s fine too, whatever makes you comfortable” question. It’s a “would you rather.” Pick wisely.
2. Does this make me invincible to other forms/times of death?
Yes. But not in the way you’d want. If you know you’re going to die in 40 years, that doesn’t mean you can just jump off a roof tomorrow and go unharmed. You’ll just end up in a coma for the extra years until you pass away on your predicted date. If you know you’re going to die by drowning, that doesn’t mean you can jump in front of a train and remain unscathed. You’ll just be horrifically injured until your actual death prediction comes true. So yes, you can’t be killed by other methods, but you’re not impervious to harm. You think I would give you an easy upside like that? Please. I told you I’m in a mood.
Now that we know all the gruesome details of this question, it’s time to break it down. The severity of this decision really hinges on the details of the information that I’d hear which, unfortunately, I cannot predict before I choose. I could be told I’m going to die in a week, which would suck, or 60 years, which I’d be okay with. I could be told I’m going to die by choking, which would freak me out constantly, or by being eaten by a bear, which sounds pretty badass and also rare in my day-to-day life in Chicago. Not the worst way to go.
However, without knowing when or how, I think the choice comes down to simply: Which answer would give me less anxiety over the course of my life? And to that, I answer: knowing when I die.
No matter if I was told I would die in a month, or a year, or ten years, or ten decades (because humanity found the cure for aging, but at 126 I died in a freak bungee jumping accident), that would be the end of that. If the day was sooner than I’d like, yes, that would suck. I would be forced to alter the timeline of my life, try and fit in everything I want to do, and come to terms with the fact that I wouldn’t be alive for many things I was looking forward to. I might become depressed, or curse the gods, or go into denial. But eventually, I would have to accept it. And after that, I would be able to live my life. Hell, depending how much time I have left, my life could even become a lot simpler and more fun.
If I find out I’m going to die in three years, you can bet your ass I’m opening up a bunch of credit cards, quitting my job, and traveling the world, content with the knowledge that Sallie Mae would never get a dime of my student loans. The human mind is remarkably resilient, and although it would be hard at first, I would come to accept my expiration date and be able to fully embrace my life until then.
On the other hand, if all I knew was how I would die, I would be anxious and stressed every day of my life. If the answer was something mundane, like a car crash, or a mugging, or choking on food, that would plague me every second of the day. Can you imagine being terrified that this is your last day every time you drive to work or take a bite of a sandwich? That would ruin food for me. Oh my god, that would ruin food for me. What fate is worse than that?
Or you can take the other route, and avoid anything could make your death prediction come true. Avoid accidents by never setting foot in a car. Avoid disease by living in a bubble. Avoid food by only ingesting nutrients through an IV. Avoid living to avoid dying. Is that worth it? I say no. I’d rather live for as long as I have, rather than only know enough information to freak me out even more.
Tell me my death date, fate. I’m ready for it. I would rather know when I die. What do you pick? .