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Prolonging Life

April 3, 2008

We have a cultural obsession with prolonging life which completely blows my mind.  Thing about that first word.  Prolonging.  Not extending life, or something perhaps more positive, but prolonging, with it’s connotations of stretching time out endlessly, of sitting in a seminar room looking at your watch as another audience member asks another stupid question, of “prolonging the agony” or “prolonging the battle”.
When we talk about prolonging life, it’s rarely about adding quality, and instead often the opposite.  Hasan tells me that I shouldn’t exercise in the afternoon because the UV light will give me skin cancer.  The news tells us to eat our vegetables and not have too much beer.  When we get to the end of our lives, we’re expected to keep on fighting, on to the very end, and it’s expected that if we end up a vegetable (presumably because we didn’t eat enough of them) that our loved ones will sacrifice their happiness and well being to nurse us through endless months until finally the machines are turned off.
When did the length of our lives become more important than the quality of them?  I love bacon and sour cream, but I’m not supposed to have them because they’ll give me heart disease.  I shouldn’t have so much caffeine,  stay up so late, be so stressed, swim after the rain, drive fast, bike, breathe LA air, eat meat, eat anything ‘unnatural’, eat as much as I do, sit at a desk for so long, or a host of other things, because they’ll kill me.  Take out all those things, and what’s left of my life?  I happen to like doing homework and thrive on running just shy of overwhelmed.  To counter that, I also love to get plastered now and again and blow off steam making a fool of myself with my friends.  Why oh why would I take away all these wonderful things, so that when I’m eighty I’ll know that I have five more years of boringness left in my life?  What is the point in adding more time to our lives, if we’re not making use of the time we have?
B’s get degrees, and I’m accepting of that.  Grad school wouldn’t have a point if I wasn’t happy here, so I’m more than willing to put aside my homework now and again to do other things.  I workout (for FUN, not for health), I read, I play with my pigs.  I go on adventures to chase the full moon, and take time out of my day to help and care for those around me.  If I wasn’t happy in grad school, I’d drop out and find something that did make me happy, because I am not willing to live someone else’s idea of a good life.  When I get a job, the same rules apply.  Safety is nothing compared to the feeling of driving a seventy miles an hour down a dark road in the middle of the night – that’s living.

One Comment leave one →
  1. April 5, 2008 12:08 am

    You remember that song that was really popular when we were in middle school or so that was nothing but some guy talking .. I think it was called ‘Wear Sunscreen’? It said something about not worrying because the things that will get you will ‘blindside you on a Tuesday afternoon’ or something to that effect. I always kind of liked that part.

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