I don’t want to live forever
Every now and then I meet someone who tells me they want to live forever. Whaaa? First of all, even if I were somehow forced to live forever, I simply don’t want to be around other people who have been living way too long. Haven’t they noticed that as people get older they tend to get more rigid and set in their ways? If we had to live with a bunch of 1000 year olds, how would we ever move past the weird issues they have about how women shouldn’t work or gays in the military? It’s a crucial fact that our culture is replenished by youth. Don’t want to lose that!! Eww!
Second of all, and more to the point I want to make, there really are people interested in this idea, and it always seems to me they are typically people that really should be focusing on living more now. What is actually going to be their plan if they suddenly were told, “hey, you’ll live forever starting now”? And if they have some awesome plan, why not just go for it? What is keeping them from making those decisions?
I have always had a great deal of admiration for people who do make those interesting and brave moves in their lives. Just this week an old friend of mine, who is a successful artist, told me she’s going back to school (at Columbia, so good for me!) to become a full time student in Narrative Medicine. If you don’t know what that means, then I don’t blame you, because I didn’t either, but what matters is that she is totally into it and that fucking rocks that she’s doing that.
Another good friend of mine is getting her Ph.D. in the ethics of nursing, after careers in energy and publishing. On the one hand I think she’s addicted to school, but on the other hand, how cool is that? To see so many different parts of the world? And by the way, if you think I’m disregarding things like money and kids, let me say that she is a single mom with two kids, and is still making this work. It’s just that she never decides not to do something because it’s hard – she’s all about intellectual curiosity and trying new things. Love her.
What would you study if you were to go back to school right now? How would you reinvent yourself?
Personally, I’ve always made my big decisions by asking myself, how will I feel on my death bed if I did or didn’t do this? It’s closely related to the other question I dwell on constantly, who am I and what is the story of my life? And it goes along with my advice post, where I pretty much always tell people to go for it or to do what they’d do if they weren’t insecure – good advice for oneself as well. I’ve actually gotten to the point of looking forward to my death bed, so I can swap stories with the people around me about the crazy shit I’ve tried. I know the chances of that working out are about zero, but it’s a nice thing to think about.
Going back to the idea of living forever: if I didn’t have a death bed to look forward to, how could I ever motivate myself to get my ass off the couch and try something new? It’s precisely because we have a finite amount of time to try things that it’s really exciting to be alive.