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Youthn Up Your Life
Closing the Gap Between Life-span and Life-expectancy
"If people lived forever, they would take forever to get anything done."
Dr. David J. Demko, PhD, Clinical Gerontologist, AgeVenture News Service

Time's Up! ... pencils down ... hand-in your test ... it's over.
Bring back any memories of that empty feeling in your school-kid gut?
The feeling that prompted the anguished whisper to yourself ... "but, I'm not done yet".

That's how death feels. And that's why many people fear it. Fear can drive us to great lengths in order to delay the inevitable ... the "it's over" part. The pursuit of longevity is one way to delay the inevitable. Like a condemned prisoner ordering his last meal ... a five course "Martha Stewart extravaganza" meal with all the trimmings. It won't change the condemned man's fate ... but it will delay (provide extended time before) the inevitable.

Longevity is a term meaning an extended life. But, extended our life time in order to do what? More years of the same kind of existence ... a re-run, so to speak. Should society's health resources be frittered away on providing people with a "re-run" of an insignificant life?

On the other hand, an extended life can provide more time for a "do-over" life. A chance to finally get it right? A chance to use our God-given talents for something more than personal gain. Yes, the pursuit of longevity can be a noble goal, if there is some greater purpose other than just extending our life by a few more years.

Here's the point. America's pursuit of longevity is a head-long, high-gear, all-systems-go enterprise. We've got the process (the science) of longevity down to a "T". But, what is the goal of longevity? Where are we headed? What is the reason for it? Also, is longevity an entitlement or a privilege (buy it if you like, but don't expect society to pay for the privilege).

For those unfamiliar with the science of gerontology (the study of aging) let me summarize the key terms in this great debate. Life-span, life-expectancy, and longevity are not contradictory terms, but neither does each term have a common meaning.

refers to the maximum number of years possible for a human to live.
The current estimate is 120 years, but some argue much longer, 800 years to infinite lives.

refers to the number of years a human can expect to live.
The average life-expectancy in the U.S. is 79 years.

refers to "closing the gap" between life-span and life-expectancy.
For example, how can science increase life-expectancy (79 years) to equal life-span (120 years)?

Longevity (making life-expectancy equal life-span) will become a reality. The progress of anti-aging science virtually guarantees it. Each day brings new revelations about how our aging clock can be slowed down by the latest anti-aging miracle. We're headed for a destination of unknown impact and consequence. A destination whose goal, purpose, and meaning escapes us.

Is longevity for losers? Yes, if the extension of time is solely for the purpose of delaying the inevitable, death. That's because the commodity of any commodity, in this case "time", increases as its supply decreases. What would you do if you had only six months to live? The quality (value) of your life would increase dramatically.

Maybe there is a value to extended life. But, so far mankind has not discovered the value. Until we do, the purpose of an extended life is merely to delay the inevitable. "If people lived for ever, they would take forever to get anything done."

As long as the value and meaning of extended life continues to elude us, longevity is for losers. And the biggest loser is a society that spends limitless resources in pursuit of a goal that as yet has no meaning, value, or purpose. Reader comments welcome. Email:
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