The appeal of longevity

My mom’s uncle Johnny died yesterday.  He was a month short of 98 years old.  When he was 96, he was still curling and taking care of his farm.  He was healthy until he had a heart attack 2 weeks ago.

It seems that longevity runs in my family on both sides.  All of my grandparents lived into their 80s and one into his 90s.  It’s pretty impressive, I think.

So what is the appeal of having a long life?  I can’t speak for others, but this is how I feel.  I’ve often said I want to live until I’m 124 years old.  It’s a very specific age, isn’t it?  At that age, I will have lived in 3 centuries.  I will turn 124 in the 22nd century.  But why do I want to live so long?

I have many reasons.  I think one of the biggest reasons is that I want to see how everything changes.  I want to see the changing dynamics between the world’s nations.  I want to see how far technology advances.  I want to see humans return to the moon and walk on Mars.  I want to see my children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren grow up and have wonderful lives.  I want to spend it with my wife.  I want us to travel the world.  I want to read hundreds or thousands of books.  I want to write many books.  I want to experience so many things.

So, can it be done?  With the advances of medical technology, many people think it’s quite possible.  I often look to science fiction and see that longevity is a common theme.  People live well beyond 100 years and continue to be very healthy and active.  Much of this is through genetic engineering, some kind of anti-aging therapy, or some other treatment.  I understand that the number of times our heart cells can divide limits us to 120 years.  Research on test animals has shown that they can significantly lengthen their natural lifespans.  I’m pretty sure it can be done for humans.

In the science fiction books I’m writing, people will live longer, mostly due to medical advances.  I don’t know how much longer they’ll live, but it will be a significant amount.  It takes place in the 22nd century, and I’d guess that we’ll see people living to 150 years regularly.

I leave you with a question.  If you could increase the length of your life, how long would you like to live?  What would you do with all that time?

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