AI: A year to live

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the things I’ve done and the things I want to do with my life. Some say you should live each day as if its your last but that never really made sense to me because really, how much sex and chocolate can one person consume day after day? It seems like you should live your life as if you have an end date in mind, which, of course we all do.

You’ve got a year to live, in good health. What would you do? And, why don’t you do that thing now, considering you likely have much more than a year to accomplish it?

The Afternoon Inquisition (or AI) is a question posed to you, the Skepchick community. Look for it to appear daily at 3pm ET.


Maria D'Souza grew up in different countries around the world, including Hong Kong, Trinidad, and Kenya and it shows. She currently lives in the Bay Area and has an unhealthy affection for science fiction, Neil Gaiman and all things Muppet.

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  1. Given that I am to get on a plane in an hour to got to my father’s funeral, who died unexpectedly from complications after brain surgery, I would have to say I’d make sure to tell everyone I love that I love them. I would make peace (if possible and healthy for you/them I know that can’t always happen), and ask them about their childhood and adult life. I would record a ton of messages for my son to watch as he got older and hug him to within an inch of his life every day. Why don’t I do this now? I am not a “mushy” person, but I do tell people important to me that I love them, but don’t take the time to find about their personal histories. I should do that. I also hug my husband and son a lot, but I’d probably hug a lot harder.
    I would also eat a lot of chocolate and Slurpees and have sex a bunch too (if my husband wasn’t too turned off by my chocolate and Slurpee physique!)!
    Lesley B.

  2. Assuming there’s no way of stopping it? I don’t think poring over research papers is gonna make it better.

    Smoke cigars. Drink good whisky. Avoid sleep.

    Sex. Try to have as many children as possible. Rescue my genetic legacy. My children will never see me (insert Puerto Rican joke here)!

    Make sure everyone I love knows it, and spend time with them. Life’s too short to not enjoy good company.

    And figure out all the places I want to go to and go there, then pee in each one. Leave my mark, so to speak.

  3. Buy a big-ass motorcycle and ride the planet. What’s stopping me doing that now? The fact that I can always do it next year.

    I want to know why Hedge and taypro aren’t having sticky chocolate sex right now?

  4. Slap Jenny McCarthy. In public. Get arrested.
    At the trial, claim that exposure to sickly un-vaccinated children caused my life-threatening disease. Sue anti-vax crowd for a gazillion bucks (to be donated to science upon my demise.)

    While out on bail, get fake ID and embark on grand tour of the world. (Bonus: Sightseeing more intense as a fugitive.)

    Alternately, go to jail. Have books sent in. Die happy.

  5. @Gabriel: Year to live? I’m going to start smoking again, like a f*cking chimney, big fat Habana Esplendedos, with breakfast and pretty much chaining the buggers all day long.

    Really really good whiskey, half a pint of Ether a day, hookers, stilton cheese and that coffee that’s sh*t out of a weasel’s arse.

  6. Actually I have less than one year on my schedule (very loosely specified: “within 2009”), and here’s what I do:

    – Learn for fun, not because it’s mandated.
    – Play a lot of Tetris.
    – Meet my friends more frequently, and even stangers whose company I enjoy.
    – A bit of sex and chocolate, but also weed, meat and music.
    – Organize the manner of my death. (Concluding posts for the blogs, acquisition of proper means, a bit of pro-euth activism, financial organizing, methodology research, etc.)
    – Write whatever is left to write, paint whatever is left to paint, forgive whoever is left bo be forgiven.

    And I’m having an absolutely great time!

  7. I have a lot of projects which I write down. Probably need more than a year to complete. Perhaps the one I like most is to write a text and eventually record a video about what is “truth” aimed at the general public.

    I don’t do many things because of mental disorder, and so I would likely end waiting patiently for the year to pass.

  8. First thing would be to get divorced because my wife will want nothing to do with the credit card bills I’ll be ringing up. Whim of the day after that; and I can’t see ticking off places to travel or sights to see as I’d rather do things like back pack and camp in the mountains, play golf in Scotland and eat lots of good meals and drink good wine with family and friends (And smoke a fair bit of dope, fuck the man) . And I would defiantly make a point of avoiding crowds, gatherings and parties unless everyone there was someone I wanted to see or talk to. Not wasting time in dull banal conversation would be a priority.

  9. @Im a Hedge:


    “You got chocolate on my penis!”

    “Well, you got your penis in my chocolate!”

    Reese’s Penis Cups!

    ( I shouldn’t joke. It’s not like the chocolate was consenting.)

  10. @rodiel: Sounds like you have the right idea, I hope to do as well when my time comes. Make as many splashes in the soul-soup as you can, and the echos will reverberate in the lives of those you’ve met and touched.

  11. Mmm… I’d also organize a contest for Kenny Rogers look-alikes and set a trap so during the swimsuit stage they would all drown.

  12. @phlebas:

    ( I shouldn’t joke. It’s not like the chocolate was consenting.)

    The chocolate wouldn’t have been laying there half-unwrapped if it didn’t want it.

    I am a Hedge

  13. – I would travel. There are a lot of things on my do-before-I-die list that I could accomplish in a few well-planned roadtrips.
    – I would eat whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. Mostly chocolate and potatoes.
    – Gads of hot sexy sex with hot sexy ladies, and my husband.
    – I would go to as many concerts, football games, UFC fights and NASCAR races as I could (afford).
    – I would read and read and read, and write and write and write.
    – Toward the end, I would do something totally selfish and self-serving, like expose Sylvia Brown or pummel Jenny McCarthy or twist Andrew Wakefield’s nipples until he takes it all back and somehow fixes the horrors he has released upon the world.
    – Last but not least, I would burn all the incriminating evidence.

  14. Wow, this AI’s kind of a downer. I would probably just spend a lot of time with my family and friends. I’ve got a few very young siblings that would be devastated upon my passing, so I’d want to spend time with them. Makes me a little sad just thinking about them, actually.

    I’d be generous, and maybe I’d do some community service or something. I’d want to die knowing that people thought well of me, and that the people I care about were made well aware of how much I care about them. What’s stopping me from doing this stuff now? Well, I’m away at school right now, so don’t get a lot of time with the family. I don’t really have the time or resources for philanthropy.

    I would probably also find time to do a few things for myself. I’d probably try to go see a few places I’ve been meaning to see. Maybe go backpacking with some friends. I might try to get laid at some point, though I can’t see the experience doing anybody any good in the long run… I’d probably also indulge in a few mind-altering substances with some of my friends (nothing terrible – alcohol, tobacco, maybe some marijuana). Why don’t I do those things now? Well, I don’t have time or resources for backpacking/travel. I’m only 20, so alcohol is illegal for another 9 months, tobacco will give me cancer (I optimistically anticipate a long life), and marijuana is also illegal (I think I could get away with some illegal substance use for at least a year without getting caught.)

  15. @rodiel: Um, are you saying you’re considering suicide? Or that you have some sort of illness that means you know your time is limited.

    Either way, I’m sorry and I hope you get the help you need. Life is short and precious, no matter how many hours you have…

  16. I, too , would tell @bookitty that I love her. Oh wait… I love you, @bookitty!

    I would find any way I could to travel as much as I could, see the world and visit all my friends. Which is mostly what I do today.

  17. I just came home from the memorial for a one-time acquaintance who died suddenly in a mountaineering accident. From all accounts he appears to have been living life to the fullest, doing what he enjoyed most: travel, climbing, acting…and da laydeez. While I don’t want to be exactly like him, there are ways in which I would like to be more like him.

    If I only had a year: travel, climb, and love, in no particular order.

  18. Cry like a motherfucker. Then get a second job and maybe a third. I wouldn’t spend any money on myself beyond the barest basics. Provide as much money as I can possibly save up for my family so they won’t be plunged into poverty on my death. I would try and get enough money to pay for trust funds to see to their needs.

  19. @Gabrielbrawley:

    Wow… that sucks… because my answer was going to be “make out with Gabriel”.

    But since you’re in the “I wish I spent more time at the office” camp, I’m going to change my answer:

    Make out with Augustus Porter.

    Why aren’t I doing it now? Because I totally can’t play the “but I’m dying” card.

  20. @phlebas: COTW

    My wife objects to me putting “penis butter” on the shopping list out of fear that some visitor might see it or that our daughter would be embarrassed by it.

  21. I don’t know that I’d have more sex or eat more chocolate. I think that even in the face of death, the philosophy of moderation in all things, including moderation, is a good one. But I would interact more with friends and family.

    Why ain’t I doing this now? Actually, some other things going on in my life recently prompted me to do something about interaction, so I’ve been trying to open up more to others (tough when you’re shy). Basically, I was learning about polyamory and realized that I wasn’t necessarily looking for multiple lovers, but I did want more close friends.

  22. I spend it all with my mom. Who was just diagnosed with metastatic colon cancer.

    I’m not doing it now because I just spent two months with her while she adjusted to her chemo. She’s doing much better and kicked me out last week.

  23. @Gabrielbrawley: Of course, I’d want to make sure I’d provided for my family -but finding out one has only got a year to live isn’t the time to do that. One should make arrangements NOW because, honestly, one never knows when the end might come. Having a year to prepare is the best case scenario.

  24. Make a porn movie. Not necessarily BE in it, but produce one, with an actual script and plot. I love working in the tech side of theater and I think it would be a blast to make porn.

  25. Just to let you guys know, the Skepchicks have been behind the scenes discussing how to handle the rodiel situation. We’ve come to a decision that for reasons legal and otherwise, rodiel’s comments are being individually moderated. Additionally, to prevent exacerbating a potentially dangerous and sensitive situation, we will not be allowing replies to him through either.

    We have privately informed him that we are willing to help him to continue living
    but we refuse to be party to his death plan. All further contact with him regarding this issue will be handled off the blog.

    We appreciate your understanding and support in this.

  26. If I had about a year left, I’d try to meet Rebecca Watson, Phil Platt, PZ Meyers, and visit my relatives. I have two cousins I haven’t seen in years.

    Since I have more than a year, I need to save up my money for retirement. I do plan on going to TAM next year, so I should meet my skeptical heroes. I’m sure I’ll see my relatives over the holidays, and they have my e-mail.

  27. I think I’d have to bypass chocolate in favour of cheese. In fact, it’d be cheese with every meal and for snacks.

    On a less gluttonous note, I’d spend more time with my family, I’ve lived overseas for about 6 years now so I think I owe them that much.
    I’d indulge in some travel, more reading, I’d be less polite to people who don’t deserve it, and I’d to do my utmost to engineer some hijinx to show up some of the woo-meisters (might involve being sued for liable as I currently live in the UK, but I think under those circumstances my response would be something along the lines of ‘do your worst’)

    I think I’d also delve more into astronomy, certainly towards to end, nothing makes me worry about life and death less than trying to wrap my head around the sheer size of the universe, it always puts things into perspective (watching Cosmos on DVD is slightly less harsh than the Total Perspective Vortex though)

  28. @Elyse: I thought ir was just because you were so far away. I figured we were going to make up for that at a future TAM.

    @Vengeful Harridan (Elexina): If I die suddenly I have life insurace. I have to assume that the life insurance will be cancelled the moment I’m diagnosed with a terminal disease so then I have to make up the difference. I would also consider crime to get the money.

  29. @Gabrielbrawley: What kind of life insurance do you have that would terminate if you had a terminal disease? Most life insurance is bought for a term. As long as you pay your premiums on time they can’t cancel it… Go read your policy. I’d hate to see you waste your last year working if you didn’t have to.

    Since I’m having a baby in about 4 months I’d spend as much time with the baby as I could. I’d also write a nice little book to him letting him know who I was and how much I love him. I’d take lots of pictures, paint lots of paintings and enjoy the time I have. I’d also make lots of lists for my husband so he’d know all the things that I take care of like our bank account numbers, where our investments are, passwords to all our online accounts so he could pay the bills, what cleaning supplies should be used on the wood floor ect. I have a feeling he’d be totally lost without me.

    I already paint a lot. I should probably make sure my husband knows all the necessary financial stuff now…. I’ll get right on that.

  30. @Pinkbunny: …our bank account numbers, where our investments are, passwords to all our online accounts so he could pay the bills….


    Huh. By your description, you’re actually married to me.

  31. That’s easy. If I had only a year to live, but I would be in good health, I would take over the world, starting immediately.

    The reason I don’t do it now is because it’s illegal, but if I was going to die anyway, I wouldn’t have anything to lose. It would most certainly be worth it.

    Knowing my luck, though… I’ll live forever. Just about the time I figure I’ve only got a few years left in me and have gotten used to the idea, medical science will extend my life by a hundred years and I’ll have to come up with something interesting to do. Besides that, I was expecting to die before the revolution came, so an extra hundred years would make me live through that (big pain in the ass) which means I will probably lose patience with everything and end up taking over the world anyway.. just to get everyone to keep the noise down. China will be making all products sold in every country, so I’ll probably have to learn Mandarin. My first order of business will be to collect all the IOU’s that found their way into China and rip them up and I’d change the official monetary unit of the world to live ferrets but make it illegal to kill them or keep them as pets, so all those rich assholes will have to get their asses off their office chairs and catch those furry bastards….. er I better go.. my meds are kicking in.

  32. @Gabrielbrawley: If you really think that’s the case, you should check with your agent and re-evaluate your plans -life and health. Your life insurance coverage should not be canceled for any reason -unless the manner of your death is suspicious. Not for illness. Also, your health coverage should not (I say ‘should,’ but that doesn’t meant they wouldn’t try) be able to be canceled because of illness, either.
    Besides, this AI specifies you will be in good health for the year. So we’re just assuming that you keel over at the appointed time in a pain-free illness-free manner. No terminal illness, just a red-circled date on the calendar indicating when the lightning will strike. Not realistic, but then it might not be that interesting…

    @Pinkbunny: I have most of these lists already, but I think my husband will probably just order take-out a lot and hire a maid -with my life insurance policy, no doubt. :-)

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