Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Who wants to live forever?

A few months ago, I caught this interesting tidbit on The Slate and stuck it in the "to blog" file in the back of my mind.

But in the way that thought gives way to thought and day give way to day, I just sort of left it on the mental back burner. And frankly, this whole blog has been on the mental back burner for a couple of weeks, so I figured now's a good time to dust off this topic and see if it has any legs left.

The story from The Slate was about how human life expectancy is getting much longer. It's happening not just in developed countries, but all over the globe. People are living longer, significantly longer. In fact according to the article, when we turn 50 most of us will still have more years ahead of us than our grandparents had when they turned 40.

This development comes with an argyle sock full of difficult socio-economic problems that someone will have to deal with: How do you feed all these old geezers? How can an already broke-ass Social Security system handle our additional years of geezerhood? Is Larry More really going to live long enough for me to have to watch him as a 3-D hologram?

I can't really answer these questions. Probably something for the upcoming young people to deal with the way my generation had to deal with cleaning up the Grunge music mess.

But when I first read the article I happened to be going through a bit of an existential funk, thinking about how quickly the first few decades of my life seem to have gone by and how even 100 years doesn't seem like nearly enough time to do everything that you want to do.

I know, I can hear what some of you are thinking. "Who wants to live to be 100, anyway?" And to be completely honest, I probably said idiotic shit like that back when I was young and stupid myself. Of course the answer to "Who would want to live to be 100?" is "Anybody who's 99."

As I've "matured" I've found that I love life. Sure it's crappy sometimes. There's always some jerk with an Apple logo sticker on his rear windshield who speeds up in rush hour traffic to block you from making a lane change. There are still people in the checkout line at the supermarket who insist on taking 15 minutes to write out a check (that's 15 minutes that I'll never get back, btw). The world, our culture and everything is pretty much going down the toilet.

But dammit, I really want to be around to enjoy this crappy world for a long, long time.

I love my family and I want to spend lots of time with them. I love seeing my kids grow up, even as I'm saddened to see them pass through the various stages of getting older. For every a-hole that doesn't hold the elevator for you, there's a glorious sunny spring morning, there are beautiful and priceless interstitial moments with your Supermodel Wife, there's your daughter with a death grip on your finger as she learns to walk, rather than crawl, down the stairs.

Everything just seems to be happening so fast. When I consider my own mortality, I think about how sad it will be to get to the end of the road and look back to see how short of a journey it was after all. Maybe life has a way of wearing you down as you age to the point that, by the time you get to the end, you're ready for it. But that hasn't happened to me yet. So when I read about increased longevity, I say bring it on.

It seem at this point that I would need 300 or 400 years to really absorb everything life has to offer, do everything I want to do, suck all the joyful marrow out of life's cold, cracked bones. Even that's just a guess. I'm sure that when I reached 399, I'd be thinking another 150 years or so would be nice.

I'm kind of just rambling on now, just freeforming this thing (that's what happens when you get old). I know I'm not alone and these are hardly original thoughts. Poems, songs, books, hell entire religions have been built around this subject. One could argue that the contemplation or our own mortality is central to what it means to be human.

So let me put it to you. Am I just stuck in a mid-life funk here? Can it even be considered mid-life given the longer lifespans? How long do you want to live, and more importantly, how long should Larry More be allowed to geezer up the airwaves?

Note: If you're reading this from an RSS reader, you might want to click through to the page to participate in the embedded poll question, if you can figure it out, ya old coot!

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  1. I want to live as long as I am able to wipe my own ass. At that point my kid is instructed to push me off the cliff.

  2. I'm confident that within the next 15 to 20 years science will advance enough to provide us with fully automated robotic asswipes. Those should keep our butts clean until the invention of shit-recycling nuclear fusion underwear, which will make the very concept of "going to the bathroom" obsolete.

  3. I'd hate to lose the "going to the bathroom" concept. What would replace it, honesty?

    "I'm just going to check your medicine cabinet, why?"

  4. Nick,

    Obviously you'd just let the nanobots that live in your underpants recycle the waste into usable energy that could be transferred, via induction, to anything that you sit on.

    Imagine your own poop charging your electric car while you drive.


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