Using colored beads to remind yourself that you will die soon


I like it.

It kind of reminds me of a thought I was having today. So many people think of death as a negative thing, especially in Western culture. The idea that we won’t be here any more. But we don’t think of the time before we were born in such a negative light, and isn’t it really the same sort of state of “non-being” as death?

Now, I’m unabashedly a strange fellow who thinks the universe is a computer, consciousness is universal and something we “tune into” rather than generate, etc. But even if you think death is final, I think this is a valid and often under-considered perspective.


Something about that…would make just want to SHAKE THEM ALL UP if I was in his home.


My cat would knock it over in a day. I’ll stick with my skull.


Every morning, Crawford takes a bead from the jar that holds his future days and places it into the jar that holds the past. While he performs the ritual he tells himself not to waste the day.

Well, don’t waste any more of the day than it takes to count and transfer beads.

I kid.

I’m not convinced that consciousness even exists. I can’t claim to be a conscious being, because I have no idea how I’d test that without the biases of the assumption of consciousness. But regardless, there’s certainly a temporal extent to “my” frame of reference. The before and after don’t really matter, do they?

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I actually think “consciousness” as we know it may very well be a construct, a model if you will. It’s a narrative we build – which doesn’t mean it’s not real, it’s just not “real” in a necessarily physical, tangible sense.

I relate it to the sweeping second hand on a mechanical watch. One thing that defines a mechanical watch is how the second hand doesn’t “tick” in the way a quartz crystal-timed watch’s second hand does. It smoothly sweeps around the 360 degrees, once per second.

Or does it? Look closely, and you’ll see that it actually is ticking, just at a much higher frequency than that of a quartz watch. It creates the illusion of a smooth sweep, but really, it’s just a continuum of separate moments.

In this way, I feel that our brains have a “clock speed.” There is only so much processing going on per second. We like to tell ourselves that this thing called “us” exists in a continuous fashion, and that it starts with birth and ends with death. The funny thing is, if you really concentrate on what you mean when you think of the “self,” you realize that this thing, the perceiver, goes into all sorts of modes on a regular basis where it essentially ceases to exist, or at least ceases to exist in a fashion anything close to what we consider “normal consciousness.”

Where do “you” go when you fall asleep? Zone out? Go under during anesthesia? That thing that is “you” is, frankly, gone at that point. Or at least – certainly not existing in the fashion that most people take for granted.

I actually began to think about these things reading about AI, the singularity and the creation of mechanical brains, and other interesting sci-fi ideas, even the transporters on Star Trek. Is that really “you” on the other side, or a very good copy? If you could clone your mind and put it in a machine, and then the original “you” died, would that new thing be you? Or simply a very very good facsimile, with all of your memories and response patterns?

And then I realized – doesn’t this actually play out constantly in our lives, every morning when we awake? When I got my wisdom teeth pulled out? Those countless times per day when I essentially drift off?

Obviously Eastern philosophies, as well as Western mystical traditions, begin to address these conundrums. However, I wish more people took the time to consider such things.


I’m arguing that the second hand isn’t even there. You ask where “I” go when I fall asleep. I ask where “I” am when “I” am awake? Is there any evidence that there’s an “I” at all? As ironic as it sounds, I don’t believe I exist. Decartes’ sleight of hand is unconvincing, I don’t think a thinker needs to exist to think.

Neat, if a tad morbid. As a mild Aspie, I would fret about knocking it over though.

I assume he sees anything after 80 as a bonus and time to be wasted?

I am not over the hill yet. But I think I can see the summit from here.

Does the jar picture look wrong to anyone else? I think it’s just for the article.

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I want to buy him 3,652 purple beads.

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But before you were born, you just didn’t know how freaking AWESOME everything is :slight_smile:


Thanks, but I’d rather forget I’m going to die, having come close too many times already. It affects me to the point where over the years I’ve developed a sleep disorder, directly as a result of a phobia about lack of consciousness. Label with a warning: Should not be attempted by those affected by PTSD.


(Min characters)

How mor-bead.

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Interesting collision between this headline and The Brain That Wouldn’t Die

I have no trouble with the concept of my own mortality. I’d just rather pass easily when I must go, with minimal discomfort and minimal complication for anyone else.

I really do need to get the living will and so on signed and on file.

Consciousness… I think you overstate it, but I will agree that a lot of what we call consciously deciding, on the minor items, is definitely a matter of approving/rejecting what the ape we’re riding around in has already decided it wants to do.

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Your life getting worse is just your life getting better in reverse, yet somehow, they’re not the same. Please never use “it’s just as if you never met them” to console the grief of anyone who is trapped in a timeline.