(Long-time readers of my LiveJournal may have deja vu at some of my blog entries, as I am recycling and combining some old LJ entries.)

A certain portion of the boomer generation–generally in the higher socioeconomic classes–seems to think that if one just eats the right things in the right amounts, does the right amount and kind of exercise, has the right amount and kind of sex with the right partner, and so on, one can live forever. It’s a sociological phenomenon that I don’t read or hear much comment on, and it’s very obvious to me that it exists.

Where does it come from? Is it the mindset of wanting more-more-more, and when one reaches a certain level materially, one turns to time, longer-longer-longer? Is it that we’re Americans, by god, and we can do anything we put our minds to? Or is it me-first-ism gone crazy? I am all that matters, I am the center of the universe, the world must always contain ME?

Who are we, that we think we should live forever? That we should continue to take up resources beyond the span that humans have always considered appropriate? (Note that this is a rhetorical “we.” I most certainly do not think this.) Is this the foreseeable outgrowth of our voracious consumption of all the natural resources we want, with no concern for future generations?

Don’t I want to live forever? Sure, in the abstract. It makes me sad to think that I won’t know how it all turns out, both for humanity at large and for my own children and their children (should they have any). But if we all lived forever, humanity would have to stop reproducing (imagine a world with all of today’s population plus its descendants for a couple of generations, all still alive and continuing to reproduce!). Not only would we lose any possibility of having new brains think of new things, but our children or grandchildren–whatever point we stopped reproduction at–would never be able to choose whether to be parents. Everything in society that relates to childhood or the teenage years would disappear, as the last generation moved into adulthood. We might care more about “the future,” because now it would be our own future, but that would simply exacerbate the self-centeredness. To me, this is not a pretty picture.

No, I think the system humankind has always had–you’re born, you grow, perhaps you reproduce, you get old, you die–is better. I’ll accept my part in the circle of life–and death.

I have been aware of mortality–my own, and everyone’s around me–from a very young age. A cousin died at 10, when I was 2; I don’t know when I first became aware of it, but I was pretty young. My grandfather, whom I loved dearly, died when I was 5. My newborn baby brother died when I was 6. A classmate and her younger sister and another child were killed in a car accident the summer after we were in fourth grade. My best friend’s 16-year-old brother was killed in a diving accident when we were about 12.

When I was 5, and again when I was 7, I was seriously ill. I didn’t, I think, realize at the time that I might die, but I wasn’t much older before I did realize that I could have. In a way, I think of every day I have had since then as lagniappe. So I have tried to live my life as much in the present as I can. I plan ahead when it is necessary or wise, but I don’t generally envision myself doing or being thus-and-so. Each day is enough of a gift and enough of a challenge to satisfy me. I think this ties in, too, with why I like–and try to live by–the Starfish Story. If I can make a difference to that one, right here and now, I’ll try to do it, because there’s never any guarantee that I will make it to the next one–or that the next one will make it there to be helped by me.

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