Its a recurring theme in present occasions. Each few weeks, as I scour the headlines, I see yet one more story about somebody who is bound he has cracked the code. He has hacked the human physique in such a means that he’ll reside an unusually lengthy life. He has give you simply the best food regimen, simply the train regime, simply the best concoction, simply the best invention. He’ll reverse, or at the least maintain off, the consequences of growing older and reside to be 120 or 150 or 180.
Maybe he’ll. However what I all the time marvel is, Why would he wish to? What can be the price of dwelling so lengthy and why would anybody want to pay it? I dont imply the monetary costyou cant take your cash with you to the grave, so investing it in an extended life makes good sense. I imply the social price, the emotional price, the associated fee in grief and ache.
On just a few events Ive learn interviews with centenariansthose who’ve lived greater than 100 years. They’re inevitably requested in regards to the keys to their longevity, and their solutions are as distinctive because the people themselvessome say love, some say luck, some say genetics, some say alcohol. Youd look in useless for that one key, that one imitable issue, that gave them twenty, thirty, or forty extra years than so lots of their friends.
However the nice trial for such folks is that they dont simply reside, they out-live. The lady who celebrates her 110th birthday has invariably outlived her mother and father, her siblings, her husband, and the nice majority of her mates. She has stood in any respect of their gravesides and bid them a sorrowful farewell. She has additionally normally outlived her youngsters and lots of of her grandchildreneven those that, on their very own account, have lived out their threescore and ten. Virtually everybody she has ever beloved, and was ever meant to like, has already come and gone. Everyone knows we shall be forgotten by the second or third technology of our descendants, however we dont a lot care as a result of we all know that by that point properly be lengthy gone. However what if thats not the case? What if we’re nonetheless round and so they arent?
These individuals who wish to reside unusually lengthy lives are obsessive about not solely dwelling lengthy, but in addition dwelling wholesome. Thats understandablethey dont wish to reside 150 years if they’re bedridden for the final 40 of them. And maybe there’s a means they will hack their our bodies to gradual the inevitable decay of muscle and the weakening of bones, to carry off the expansion of cancers and the approaching of Alzheimers. They could not expertise the bodily weakening and loss that the remainder of us do, however there may be little they will do to protect themselves from the compounding lack of family members. They’ll scale back the damage and tear on their our bodies, however not the damage and tear on their minds, souls, and feelings as they watch the decay and dying of each individual theyve ever beloved.
As a type of self-protection they could then select to not love in any respect. That could possibly be their protection. However is a life with out love a life value dwelling? As Tennyson so eloquently reminds us,
I maintain it true, whateer befall;
I really feel it, once I sorrow most;
Tis higher to have beloved and misplaced
Than by no means to have beloved in any respect.
I perceive the will for an extended life, and particularly for many who don’t have any agency hope for all times past. The grave yawns darkish and chilly and terrifying for many who method it with uncertainty. However for many who method it with confidence, we perceive that, in its distinctive means, dying is a launch. It’s a launch from the sorrow and struggling that may in any other case overwhelm us. Whereas we lament that there have to be a grave, we additionally anticipate that it marks the top of all sorrow and the start of true, lasting, uninterrupted pleasure.