"The force that through the green fuse drives the flower
Drives my green age; that blasts the roots of trees
Is my destroyer." - Dylan Thomas
How does one balance the striving for a healthy, long-as-possible life, and the acceptance that the life force is transient and must be relinquished? In an era when DNA can be edited and replacement body parts can be created with 3D printers, the aggressive search for longevity has huge personal, cultural and social implications.
On a practical level, it's simply a question of having enough resources to live an extended, comfortable life. Few of us have the money saved or a sufficient retirement plan that will match living in to our 80s, 90s, and beyond. A sobering article titled Americans are living longer. What if that’s a disaster? on politico.com states:
"In 1960, there were five American workers for every retiree, but now there are just under three, so Social Security no longer generates surpluses. By 2040, there will be about two workers per retiree, a demographic cliff that could drain the system in a hurry—or force some dramatic changes. And the days when most Americans spent their entire career with the same company and then enjoyed a private pension during retirement are long gone."
I don't look forward to a world full of aged homeless people wandering the streets and living in the woods. Where will the resources come from to support this burgeoning population of the elderly? I am not suggesting we all lemming-like leap from a cliff at the age of 87. But the repercussions of improvements in health and longevity need to be addressed.
Philosophically, whatever time is left to one cannot easily be controlled or determined, try as we might. One could receive a life saving heart transplant, walk out of the hospital and get hit by a bus. So, one must come to terms with letting life go. Life could be seen as a miraculous force that we don't own. Instead we have the opportunity to enjoy a bit of it during a blip in the vast expanse of time. Not dying would cheapen that experience. Not dying clings to that life force and keeps it from flowing into another.
Or perhaps life can be viewed as an ocean and each of us are bubbles that rise up and subside again after a few moments.
"“The meaning of life is that it stops.” -Franz Kafka.
Enjoy life while you can. Let it go when you can't.