I want to live long—like a song that doesn’t want to end. Pause rewind play. TILL the magnetic reel snaps off the analogue head. 300 years is my target lifespan. I want to age gracefully at 45 with the charming looks of 35 intact, my brain sharp, my body athletic and my guts invincible. Is there a pill for it ? There is none. Hello Alexa, hi Siri, do you hear me ? Last time I checked Wikipedia, research on life extension is a serious mission pioneered by some of the richest persons alive on the planet earth.
Some tech innovators and Silicon Valley wizards have invested heavily into anti-aging research trying to defeat death. Larry Ellison (founder of Oracle), Peter Thiel (former PayPal CEO), Larry Page (co-founder of Google), and Peter Diamandis want to play Gods.
Let’s come to Victoria, an imaginary woman breathing down your shoulders like a diva sans wrinkle or without caring a hoot about menopause. She walks tall and lean without a bloody spot. Darling of the many, wonder of multitudes, and envy of the billions. What’s her secret ? As per current understanding, eating little, regular exercise, abstaining from drugs and smoking, avoiding accidents is one of the mantras of achieving long life.
Better still, if you were born in a Scandinavian country or Japan, a tiny outlier, you may enjoy the nectar of life beyond your wildest dreams.
But is it worth having an imperishable life ? While your friends and relatives die in droves in front of your attractive hip, will you really perpetuate life ? If you ask me, I will be bored with having to tolerate the toddlers of 35 years with stunted life skills and wisdom. I can’t baby-sit my normal friends who watch their lipid profile regularly. That’s why I will take the chances. I will push my dream and elevate my hopes, deliberately slip on the banana peel trying my destiny. You will tie your shoelace before lying down on bed in fear of the nightmare. Foreboding, like a rotten vegetable in the kitchen waiting to be thrown into the dustbin.
Here’s the science. As we age, the cells lose the ability to regenerate, our organs fail due to abuse, and with telomeres in our chromosomes shortening, our vitality days will go numbered and into senescence.
As a result, cancer will form, our hearts will become erratic and opportunistic pathogens will prey on us. Our faculty will lose its dexterity and that smartness. To distinguish between your hair and toothbrush will become a daily challenge. About your car keys, the less said the better.
Not everything is lost. The day when some young tech titan invents a life enhancing technology and it is up for grabs at a price, we will scrabble for an era in human existence. The caveat is that it will also be a harbinger of a new casteism and extreme inequality. Those having money will buy the elixir of life and those who don’t will see their life crushed by poverty, doctors will keep you at a pole distance because you have no money to spare. The hard truth. There is no real altruism in this world— everything boils down to self -interests and self-preservation of the psychological ego and the mortal being.
We are better off with our imperfect bodies slogging day and night hatching rosy dreams for our daughters. Our current thinking is that if we try hard enough and have our kids invest 10000 hours of deliberate practice, in a head start, they can outshine in any field, and be their reigning star. The parents of such a star will jump uncontrollably when her girl clutches the Olympic Gold medal after all that grit and that very moment of touching the pinnacle will remain etched in her memory for the rest of her life.
The promise of immortality will upend all that life’s little joys and daily spectacles. We will ditch the short-term goal for the far-sighted Millennium Beauty Contest.
Looking at the historical trends in lifespan, I think it will be too optimistic to hope that we will cross 200 years in this generation.
Next to immortality, what we should we really strive for is this : Cure cancer, diabetes and obesity. If we can make these three conditions disappear, the quality of life will dramatically improve and the median age for mortality will shoot upwards of 100 easily.
Interestingly, age is a state of mind ultimately. Age is only a number. You must have met many young persons whose gait and philosophy of life sucks as much as their dirty socks. Then you meet this dashing 69 year old who looks dapper like a butterfly and cool like a man trying to flirt with the pretty nubile things.
Go for it.
Victoria just got a new haircut on her birthday. She is one year older. Her outlook just got younger. She dons new colorful streaks on her hair. With it, another layer of youthfulness and a new armament to prove her detractors wrong. To prove that Age is just a number. And Number is just a mental arithmetic, an imaginary slip of the tongues.
Victoria thrives. Many people throb from minute-to-minute waiting for that pulse to stop and kill the will to live. Victoria lives to throb with life not end it.
I am a Victoria in pants, bulging with life.