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Do You Want to Live Forever?

September 27, 2013

Maya Angelou quote

Extending life beyond what it is today no longer seems an impossibility. Some say, that it might not be too long before we see people living to be 120.  Author and blogger, Lynn Spreen posted a blog on how she feels about living so long, title “I Don’t Want to Live Forever”.  I was so taken with her blog and the subsequent conversation that I added my own thoughts to the dialogue which she re-posted today in The New Work of Age: Deep Thinking. If you would like to see the first half of the dialogue, pop on over to her website and settle in for an interesting read. The general gist of her blog and the subsequent comments, were, “no, we don’t want to live forever, because we will just be miserable”. Here was my response:

How very sad that advancing years seem to spawn despair and a sense of hopelessness and fear. About ten years ago, in my early 50’s I watched my parents journey through their last days, one dying at 89, the other at 97. The thing that struck me then, was this was exactly their experience. They couldn’t figure out how to live without “doing” something. I vowed then, that I would try to figure out a better way to die so that I wouldn’t have to die in despair.

I have been wrestling with my own version of this issue, and at sixty-two, I now see things very differently. I have never felt more at peace with life than I do now, and while the numbers say otherwise I feel like my life is just beginning. I’ve begun to think of the first half of life as “boot camp” for the good stuff. What we are missing in our western culture and perspective is the big picture. Is life really about “doing”? Is it about thinking, planning, executing?

For me, I now see it as a process of being and becoming, of transformation and personal and spiritual growth which is more of an inward journey than an outward one. Sure, we will live in the world, enjoying all that it has to offer until we can no longer do so, but perhaps what we are meant to do in our last years, no matter how long they last, is to do exactly what people like Erikson, Kubler-Ross, Dr. Estes and others have been saying for years, go inward. Aging is a transformative process that, when we choose to embrace, rather than fear, deny or avoid, we are gifted with the ability to offer wisdom and perspective to a world that has grown mad with doing.

No one looks forward to living in pain and losing one’s faculties, but it’s just another change that we can choose to embrace or fear. I want to live in this place of transformative aging until I die and I want to resist falling into the trap of fear or despair to the best of my ability. If it is 70 years or 170, I don’t think I will have learned or experienced everything there is to learn or experience, and I will be sorry to see this journey end, but I plan to leap, to the best of my ability, into the next world, whatever it is.

How do you feel about the idea of living to be 120?

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. Lana permalink
    September 27, 2013 12:53 pm

    Here’s to “transformative aging”. Let’s embrace this and get the word out. Thanks, Dorothy!

  2. September 27, 2013 1:39 pm

    I don’t think that physically I want to live to 120 however I do agree with what Joseph Campbell said ” The first half of life we serve society – engagement. The second half of life we turn inwards – disengagement”

  3. October 3, 2013 2:28 pm

    I appreciate your appreciation of the value of moving inward, of learning how to be, rather than to be do caught up with what to do… or as an older friend of mine laughingly echoes, do be do be do be…. etc.

    • October 3, 2013 2:55 pm

      ha ha ha, love it! A sense of humor is always a plus, too! Thanks for your comment.

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