If the purpose of life were simply to be alive in the biological sense, then every human being would have fulfilled his purpose at birth, or rather before birth, and would therefore stand to gain nothing by going through with the rest of the process — nothing but more time. But who would carry on merely for the sake of carrying on, without any reason for doing so beyond temporal prolongation itself?
That is my answer to an age so obsessed with the desire for personal biological survival that it is prepared to sacrifice absolutely any other good — freedom, responsibility, maturity, individual self-determination, truth, civility, honor, beauty, the long-term well-being of one’s society, the soul’s longing for immortality — on the altar of its great god, Risk Avoidance.
Those who are regarded as “thrill-seekers” in our time are in fact quite the opposite. For we think of such people, who are so eager to take chances with life and limb, as trying to “squeeze more out of life,” or to “live life to the fullest.” But nothing worth squeezing out of life, nothing that would properly define a full life, can be gained by physical activity as such, let alone physical danger. Hence, what the thrill-seeker is actually trying to do is to avoid life, to escape from the real risks of human existence, namely the dangerous thoughts and daring emotional obsessions that define fullness in living. The thrill-seeker, who seems so brave, and surely regards himself so, is merely a suicide who lacks even the decisiveness to do the deed properly, and therefore reduces himself to playing with suicide as his “extreme” method of hiding from the grand risks of a truly human life, which he evidently lacks the genuine courage to face.
“Living forever” is a convenient distraction from living. Our modern dreams of ever-expanding life expectancy, a cure for every illness, and society reinterpreted as a universal security blanket, are a perfect match for our modern mortal terror of having to come to a reckoning with ourselves — to justify ourselves, to explain what the hell we have been doing all this time. Or rather what we were doing with all this time — and what we were not doing.