Reddit thought experiment

November 21, 2011 | By | Reply More

Check out this post on Reddit: “What would you say to your 15 year old self if you could phone him/her up right now? -but you can only talk to them for a total of 15 seconds.”

Well worth a read. It got me thinking, but I haven’t come up with any worthy 15-second advice for my 15-year old self. Sure, I could advise on investment strategies, but that seems to demean the question. Nor would I want to deprive myself of unpleasant (or even dangerous) experiences that I know that I actually pulled through. To do so would be to deprive myself of significant learning experiences.

Perhaps I would tell myself: Many of your biggest regrets will occur because you forgot to be self-critical and when, instead, you followed the crowd.

This Reddit question reminded me of the following Nietzsche quote:

The greatest weight.– What, if some day or night a demon were to steal after you into your loneliest loneliness and say to you: “This life as you now live it and have lived it, you will have to live once more and innumerable times more; and there will be nothing new in it, but every pain and every joy and every thought and sigh and everything unutterably small or great in your life will have to return to you, all in the same succession and sequence – even this spider and this moonlight between the trees, and even this moment and I myself. The eternal hourglass of existence is turned upside down again and again, and you with it, speck of dust!”

Would you not throw yourself down and gnash your teeth and curse the demon who spoke thus?… Or how well disposed would you have to become to yourself and to life to crave nothing more fervently than this ultimate eternal confirmation and seal?

–from Nietzsche’s The Gay Science, s.341, Walter Kaufmann transl.

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Category: Meaning of Life, Whimsy

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

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