Tuesday, November 7, 2023

Refuted by the morning sky

     Maybe the problem is I had just plowed through The Economist's cover story "Living to 120 is becoming an imaginable prospect," a big nothingburger whose takeaway is: keep alive, they're working on it.
     Then first thing Monday, the Washington Post weighed in with a similar article on cracked rich guys trying to never die: "'Aging is a disease’: Inside the drive to postpone death indefinitely."
     Good luck with that. These East Coast publications seem to think they're writing for the super-wealthy — the owners of Louis Vuitton and Cartier and other advertisers. Maybe they are. But trying to live forever just seems not only impossible, but another way to waste your life, like living to retire, using some future pipe dream as an excuse to postpone living a meaningful life right now. Most folks are just trying to pay the bills.
      Maybe these live-forever schemes are really about the illusion of control. You think you can guide your destiny, but you can't. Think about it. You can achieve the perfect health that these rich guys seem to think is within their grasp if they just follow the right charlatan, gobble the right supplements (the subject of the Post article takes 100 pills a day, which seems more likely to kill him — choking to death on an EternaLife capsule — than buy him more time). And still step carelessly in front of a bus, the peak of fitness.
     If the media only spent half the time trying to encourage people to live the lives they got, rather than grasp at years they'll never see, we'd all be a lot better off.
     It was depressing, honestly, and made me wonder: how important could living be, if these idiots are clawing so desperately at it? Prolong life? Shit, "take me now" makes more sense. I've already lived the good part. Who wants to live to 100? Long enough to ... what? Watch democracy die in the second Trump administration? Cower while anti-Semitism rises to its inevitable result? Watch the planet bake to a cinder while being scourged with storms? Physically wither and crumble along with everything I ever cared about?  Why stick around for that? 
     While having these dark early morning thoughts, chewing on the value of life, the time came to walk the dog. The beauty of walking the dog is ... anybody? ... you have to walk the dog. That is get up, grab a leash and some plastic bags for the crap that you know life will serve up, and go outside, face the day. 
     Which Monday dawned magnificent. We were confronted ... by this.
    Oh my. You never know what any day may hold. Message received. 







     

27 comments:

  1. My neighbor made it to 103 years old. Her caregiver, who lived three doors away, died unexpectedly at age 67. She lasted only two months after that. Everything she knew and loved was gone. I’m not sure if I want to live to 120. Maybe I’d know once I got there. πŸ˜‚

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  2. There was a comic strip gravestone I once read.

    Quit smoking 1985
    Quit drinking 1995
    Became vegetarian 2005
    2020. Died anyway.

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  3. A beautiful antidote to the constant bloviating and hectoring of the "media". Thank you Neil.

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  4. Right on!

    From another guy in his mid 60s

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  5. Life is an exercise in figuring out what you love - and systematically having those things taken away from you. Darn.

    Once a guy gets rich he believes he has it all figured out, not acknowledging that getting rich is a one trick pony. It doesn't mean you are smart at other things, just the thing that got you rich. Once they make the first few billion they decide they are going to solve poverty or childhood obesity. The results are predictable.

    Now these knuckleheads think they can figure out eternal life. Narcissism is a powerful drug. About 30 billion humans have lived. So far the actuarial tables show the record to be, death 30 billion, eternal life zero. The odds seem stacked against the efforts of the rich staring at their image in a mirror.

    I am going to start working on a new book, "How Rich People Die - the Often Mundane and Occasionally Entertaining Ways Gods Chosen People Leave This Earth". I think it has educational possibilities.

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    1. I hope you don't mind, Dennis, if I suggest a few changes to the title of your new book: 1. "Gods" is possessive and ought to be "God's," or more daringly "Gods;" 2. Unless you intend to limit your subject to "God's Chosen People," i.e. Jewish People, perhaps something like "God's Fortunates; 3. "Leave this Earth" seems a bit precious, don't you think; maybe "Perish" or "Expire" would be sufficiently learned looking without evoking the image of a spaceship taking flight.

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    2. I think you're on to something...........life is about love.

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    3. tate, you are hereby deputized as a grammar policeman.
      pau w
      roscoe vil

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    4. God's chosen people are the rich, of course. Just ask them. There will be no book however. I just like the notion that reactionary, narcissistic rich die the same old boring ways as the rest of us - even if their hobby is an unflattering quest for eternal life. It is worth noting that people who correct others in public forums has the same mortality rates as those they criticize.

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  6. I've never seen a poll asking people if they would want to live an extra 10, 15, 20 years. I can't believe that most people would. So when I read those stories about unlocking longevity - I'm not referring to the cosmetic lines - I ask myself, who wants that?

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    1. You're likely right, but on any given day, assuming reasonably good health and social contacts, most people, even those who believe that eternal happiness awaits them, would prefer to live, not die. Lacking good health and good friends, many prefer to die, and do so by one means or another.

      john

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  7. I truly believe that “postponing death indefinitely” would be a disaster for human society as it is currently structured

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  8. Some people do it right: https://wgntv.com/news/northwest-suburbs/104-year-old-chicago-woman-who-became-oldest-person-to-tandem-skydive-dies/

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  9. 🚢🏽‍♀️ Trans John/Karen 03/22November 7, 2023 at 8:30 AM

    100 or so years ago, the ‘entitled’ were having themselves injected with ‘monkey glands’, the idea being that the aging process would be arrested and they would be blessed with ongoing youthful vigor, etc. This was just another in a centuries-long quest in myth and reality for eternal life.
    Like many of those who read Roger Elbert’s ‘Life Itself’, I found an amazing amount of inspiration in his acceptance of his struggles with his health, but more importantly with his acceptance of his mortality and what would presumably be the return to the ‘nothingness’ from which his soul had peacefully been residing before his birth. I think he put it much more eloquently than the way I’m relating it right now.
    Recently I watched a film, ‘Quartet’, a production filled with all those marvelous elderly British actors ( Michael Gambon, Maggie Smith, Tom Courtenay, Billy Connolly, Pauline Collins) that Hollywood eschews for the most part. The film revolves around a rest home for retired musicians and performers, some of them slipping in and out of reality, many of them trying to keep active, almost like pre-teens coming up with ideas for ‘let’s put on a show’ in their garage or basement, or for people in a rest home. In this case, it’s their children and grandchildren who come to be entertained by the ‘ancients’.
    Anyway, a couple of old music hall performers were caught by a caretaker smoking on a veranda, and one of the other residents remarked: ‘He’s 84, and he’s 79. So, by not smoking, you can figure they’ll add a week, maybe, onto their lives all told. This being England, it’ll probably rain that week anyway. So leave them be.’
    Quality over quantity? Sounds like a marvelous plan. Never forget to embrace the good parts, like…yeah, something as simple as watching the dawn breaking and being thankful that you were around to see it.



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  10. My great aunt, Evelyn, was 105 when she passed away last November. She had lost all of her siblings, her husband and her 2 daughters (and a granddaughter). She was witty and had a great memory. Still, for the last 5 years of her life, she always asked why she was still alive. The joy was gone from her life when she lost those she loved.

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  11. I turned 70 this year. As there are more years behind the cart than in front of the horse (which I can't ride as well as I used to so I keep it for my grandkids) the only thing to do is live in the moment. I am really bad at this, so I am trying yoga.

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  12. Perhaps people who want to live to be 120 assume that all those they love will live as long as they do. Or perhaps they've never lost people they really love, so they don't need to imagine the possibility of out-living many of the people they love.

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  13. The spouse and I will occasionally have what we call Great-To-Be-Alive moments... sitting outside with a Tanqueray and Tonic, enjoying the evening while waiting for the burgers in the Weber grill to finish, that kind of thing. I would accept another 15 or 20 years of that, if offered, but we all know that it's not going to last, so a better strategy is to thoroughly soak up the good times while we are fortunate enough to have them.

    My first thought upon seeing today's blog photo was that the cloud looks like a giant dog paw. If that is our Cosmic Sign for today, I'm good with that.

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    1. I noticed the same thing. But I saw a kitty paw...

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  14. Thank you for the wonderful conclusion to this post. I know that feeling, of sudden wonder and message received. Shocks you out of yourself for a moment, at least.

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  15. Nice column Neil, thanks. de

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  16. The Centennial Light is the world's longest-lasting light bulb, burning since 1901, and it's in Livermore, California, and maintained by the Livermore-Pleasanton Fire Department. The Centennial Light was originally a 30-watt (or 60-watt) bulb, but is now very dim, emitting about the same light as a 4-watt nightlight. But you'd be pretty much a dim bulb, too, if you were still alive after 122 years.

    We're just light bulbs. There's no light bulb heaven or light bulb hell. The light within goes out when the brain does, and the bulb begins to decompose and has to be disposed of. Some bulbs burn out early. Some last a long time. But they all cease to function eventually. The 122-year-old light bulb is a freak, an anomaly, a deviation from the norm. Nobody is making light bulbs that last that long...not even rich guys who think they can burn forever. Nobody escapes the Iceman.

    I'm thirteen years your senior, Mr. S.---and I've had a good run. Longevity is a family trait. My grandmother almost made it to 90. Her daughters lived to be 95 and 92. I used to think I'd easily do the same. Then, as I aged and had more health issues, I adjusted it downward...to 85...to 80. Less than four years to go.

    My 70th birthday present was the eclipse. On my 80th...what? Too old to shoulder a musket when the wheels fall off in Trumpland, and these United States unleash the demons that have plagued us since colonial times, all those Untied Snakes. Maybe waiting for the jackboots on my front porch, when the Jews are dragged out into the streets. This one will not go quietly to his doom. Watching the weather become hotter, crazier, and stormier. Hell, I've always been a weather junkie. Thank you, Tom Skilling and Harry Volkman. Of course, wearing out like an old car...or finally burning out like a light bulb...is a given.

    It might have been Hemingway who said it...I don't know for sure...that if you live long enough, everything you've loved or cared about is eventually besmirched. It's already happening to me. So I don't mind death...or the nothingness that follows. What choice do any of us have? It's the process itself that I fear most, especially if it's prolonged and painful.

    I'd like to live long enough to see how our current messy situation plays out, but the resolution of this drama might turn out to be so horrendous that expiring beforehand is actually a blessing. What saddens me the most is that my wife will have to soldier on alone,...dealing with advanced aging, missing my companionship, and probably being lonely. And if I outlive her? I don't think I'd be around for long. That scenario is too awful to contemplate...or to discuss.

    Enough. I'll think about all this tomorrow.

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  17. When one or both of your boys turns you into a grandparent, your wish and will to stick around will kick in hard… as will a new element of dread at the thought of your progeny escaping pogroms or searching for potable water in an apocalyptic hellscape.

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  18. So (having reached the age of 80, I feel free to start a sentence with "so). So, as I was saying, last Saturday was my 80th birthday. If I believe half of the kind words said about me at the party in our home Sunday afternoon, I have lived a wonderful, and useful life. . But I have to confess, my 65th birthday celebration still stands out in my mind. As I like to say, that was the night 200,000 of my closest friends joined me in Grant Park and Barack Obama was kind enough to drop in.

    Here is a link to some of the photos I took on the hopeful night.

    http://lgrossman.com/pics/obamanight/

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  19. That cloud looks like a big fist! “ Don’t make me come down there!”

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    1. When I first looked at that cloud I saw a fist too but I imagined it being aimed at earth, as if "someone up there" was shaking it at all of us while asking, "What are you doing to Earth, aka my beautiful creation, and to all of my people (whether or not they believe in me), each and every one are also beautiful creations of mine?"

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