Immortality is overrated
A couple months ago my friend Whitney told me about a conference she’d attended and at one point when everyone was broken out into small groups the question was posed, “If a genie granted you the ability to live to be 80, 200 or never die, which would you pick?” I believe one caveat to the wish is to assume your health wouldn’t heavily degrade as the years passed. She told me she was shocked by how many people picked 200 or forever. She was the only one who chose 80 at her table. The more I have thought about it, I’m pretty sure I'd choose 80 as well.
What scares me about picking the shortest answer is the same thing that makes me think its the right one for me. I think the fleeting nature of life is what makes it interesting and compelling nature to push for more. Posed another way, if I knew I’d live to be 200 I wonder if suddenly I’d just take a couple decades off engaging. One doesn’t have to be full throttle each minute to live a valuable life but how much life does one need to live anyway?
I've also been left wondering how much change a mind can or would wish to tolerate over a lifetime? If someone had been born 500 years ago and had witnessed the advent of the steam engine, automobiles, computers, vaccines, the internet, space flight, beanie babies and more, would a point come at which they would simply be lost or give up? I think of watching my grandparents age and them looking to me for help with their televisions and other gadgets. How much of this was due to outright age vs the ability to comprehend something that so fundamentally challenges the life in which they began? I wonder what those changes will look and feel like for me as I age?
The idea of my own mortality is scary but as I think about what keeps my internal fire burning its the unknown of what is to come and that it won’t go on forever. For anyone that would wish to pick 200 or forever I think that’s great. My question is, “why did you pick that number?” Do you think it would be exciting to see all that change? Awesome. Do you want to travel and see more of the world? Great. My next question is, how much are you plugged in with today’s societal or technological changes? How much are you traveling today? If you’re not engaged at present but would want to be, what are you waiting for?
The question I will leave you with and will contemplate myself is, what would I like to do with my remaining 45 years? What do I wish to do more of and less of? Once I have that list, I’m going to get to work on it right away.
Go Forth Boldly
"I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived."
Henry David Thoreau