WHAT IF we humans do continue to expand our life expectancies? Many living to more than 100? How will that change the world? Don’t ask a demographic scientist. Better to listen to George Burns who once said: “If you live to 100, you’ve got it made. Very few people die past that age.”
But nearing my 70th birthday on the 11th, I am beginning to consider with more earnest my mortality. How long do I want to live? Will, in my novel Will, writes in his will (yes, a lot of ‘wills’) to his friend Peewee:
"The concept of living as long as possible does not exist in nature. After procreating and nourishing, breath is no longer necessary…only the satisfaction of hunger.”
Will goes on to say, “This may sound disconcerting, but it gives me solace.”
Does it give me solace, I wonder? Of course the hand Will’s been dealt is much different than mine. On one hand as my knees groan more and more and say better replace me pretty soon and my artificial valve pounds out life, I do wonder—why worry? On the other hand I have a dozen grands, and I want desperately to live as long as possible to see what becomes of them. And then I’m sure there will be great grands. I want to know them. So, let’s replace what needs replacing. I want to live forever.
Probably best to consider mortality whimsically, since we ultimately have no say in the matter. I think I’ll take Satchel Paige’s (a famous old pitcher from the Negro league days) advice: “Don’t look back, something might be gaining on you.”