My children have been posing me some questions. This is the most recent. My attempt at an answer follows.
Literally, of course, I could not live without oxygen, water or food. Probably need to add “sufficient shelter from the elements” to that.
There are things without which I could likely go on living — somehow — but it would be difficult. I would have to devote more time and energy to survival. High on this list are running water, electricity and heat. Occasional power outages give me an idea of what this would be like and help me appreciate what I have.
Though they are not on the same level as these basic needs, I have likened “wi-fi and cell phones” to “water and electricity.” It’s deliberate hyperbole, yet it is unpleasant to imagine living without them. Yes, we got along fine without them before we had them, but I don’t know that we would get along fine if they went away. The same could be said — and perhaps was said before my time — about phones in general, or radio and TV, as well as cars and other mechanical forms of transportation. I suspect that as each modern convenience has been added, many have looked back and wondered, How did we ever get along without that?
I am looking beyond the physical requirements to sustain life as I ponder this question.
What comes to mind immediately is “love.” I doubt I could live without feeling and sharing love, in all three forms — God’s love, romantic love and true friendship. Part of me reacts to my own statement here by noting it sounds almost cliched to say this. But it is nonetheless true. (At a number of weddings, I’ve sung a song that asks, “Is it love that brings you here or love that brings you life?”)
I couldn’t live without my immediate family. Each member is special to me. They are the most significant source of love in my life. They also bring me much joy, which also is necessary to life. (See my blog post on perfect happiness: https://johnbecton.blog/2021/12/13/perfect-happiness/ .)
Sunshine, though it belongs in the first paragraph above, figures in here as well. It is more than just a physical necessity. The Sun sustains life even on cloudy days, but too many gray days drain the joy out of life.
And while considering joy, I think we can add “laughter” to the list of things essential for life.
I’m not sure life would be possible without music and other art forms. They provide a connection with our spiritual side that I think we need to be truly alive.
Also essential to life, I believe, is a sense of self worth. People need to feel valued. They desire to see how their presence in the world makes some kind of positive difference. They want to believe their consumption of oxygen, water and food is justified.
Without all these things, it would not be life. It would, at most, be existence.