While perusing Digg.com today, I came across one of those life expectancy calculators, this one courtesy of MSN. I’ll occasionally indulge myself in these, because generally, I like the results: I drink alcohol maybe once a month now, my BMI is still around 25, and I had half a cigarette in 8th grade before I threw up and never touched one again. This particular test, however, places huge influence on how long your grandparents live and your gender.
As a male, I was supposed to make it to 75, which SUCKS. Dying at 75 is perfectly lame, especially if you want to see how everything turns out. So I made myself a woman, and it gave me until 91! How can there possibly be a sixteen-year discrepancy just by having labia?
I went over to the Death Clock, and they were barely more sanguine. I do have more than 1.2 billion seconds left according to them, so that’s something, but I’m still stunned at how much better women are built for life on Planet Earth.
While taking Psych 28 (Personality) with Dr. Richard Lucas – easily one of the greatest classes ever taught in 217 years of UNC’s existence – all of us students were asked to make a little line graph of when we were born, when we were to die, and where we thought we were in relation to those two events. Mine, and many of the kids’ around me looked like this:
It’s incredible how being a teenager truly makes you think you’ll live forever, or at least until you’re 145. But I have to say that I only gained true sanity in the harrowing months after 9/11, when I fully came to grips with “the rest of my life” not being so impossibly long. When you have some sense of your ending, even if it is far away, it allows you to stop making incredibly stupid decisions and (if you want to) get married and have a child.
Before that conversion experience, I was genetically unable to commit to anything because I feared the word “forever.” Now forever doesn’t seem that long, and part of that is actually comforting. Liberating, even.
But now, with the unlocking of the human genetic code, the lambent promise of stem cells, and the research on shutting down the sub-cellular proteins that say “it’s time to die,” living past 100 looks like it might become quite common regardless of what MSN and the Death Clock say. One gerontologist at Cambridge believes that “the first person to live to 1,000 may have already been born.” That’s the equivalent of a young soldier invading Britain with William the Conqueror still being alive today.
If that’s the case, let’s just agree on this right now: no nuclear weapons used for any reason EVER, no more fossil fuels for transportation in ten years, and let’s think of some truly excellent television pilot ideas AS SOON AS HUMANLY POSSIBLE. We got air time to fill, yo!