Sunday, August 26, 2012

Life

The New York Times asked its readers how long one wanted to live see link below or here. I responded.

The average lifespan for homo sapiens without medical intervention is around 45. By that time and beyond we are kept going by ingesting many pharmaceuticals, making use of technology, eating healthfully, not smoking and exercising. This has extended the human life span significantly sometimes 40 or more years and may do so even more through genetics.

We, on a primal level, do not want to give up this life. Most of us want to see the next day. Reality dictates that living longer means, at least for now, certain decline. We remember well the flower of our youth, mourn and curse its passing putting up with the might of certain maladies if we grow old. Aging, as Bette Davis famously said, is NOT for sissies. Aging hurts and it ultimately robs us of independence and everything good we knew in youth including even our minds. Death is always, after a certain age, our co-pilot as it sits in wait beside us. It takes those we love IF we live long enough to see them go before us. Beyond even that, if one thinks Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and a 401K will offer one a financial safety net think again. Politicos are trying to kill those safety net programs and many of our 401Ks are meager now subject to the whims of economic Great Recessions and Great Depressions. With the disappearance of the middle class who can afford this life even now let alone extending it beyond 100?

No, I do not want to live into very very old age with a never-ending panoply of pain, racked with arthritis and other damaging incurable diseases nor do I want to be poor from the extension of a very expensive lifespan.

Life is, indeed, a conundrum. I strongly hold views of letting nature ultimately exact its pound of flesh but I am sure when the time comes I will NOT want to draw my last breath nor not see nature's beauty for one more day or never see home and those I love again.

My mother always told me I was the center of the universe so how would it be possible for history to go on without me? Aren’t I the engine of the earth’s life? A rude awakening taught me that I was not. This age in which we all live will one day be relegated to ancient history like the ancient civilizations of Egypt, Greece and Rome. I wonder why my mother never told me that. I had to figure that one out all by myself.

When I asked Richard Dawkins the brilliant evolutionary biologist and atheist how he could deal with the finality of life if he did not believe in God. He said to me it is too bad we all could not take joy in life’s reality, grandiosity and evolutionary 4 billion year miraculous odyssey and leave it at that. He was right but it is still not an easy thing to do!

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/26/sunday-review/how-long-do-you-want-to-live.html