I was reading an article by Penelope Lively, which you can read too over here. For those of you who are not obedient I shall summarise, in my own way. She talks about what it’s like to be old (fine actually, she says), as well as discussing average life spans across the ages, and across the world, and literature that features old people beyond stereotypes.
One fact that really struck me was that 2000 years ago our life span was just 25. This makes a lot of sense to me, as biologically we start to deteriorate after that- no need to keep us healthy as we’d have already been killed off by a tiger, or more likely, a tooth infection. If you look at it that way you start to see cancer, birth defects, grey hair and reading glasses as decidedly.. freaky. We’re supposed to live, reproduce and die- by the age of 25. Your body is just failing, from then onwards.
This is why, put bluntly, I don’t plan on living past 55 or 60. I don’t see the point. Modern medicine can probably keep me reasonably fit till then, if I don’t die before. It would be younger, but I have a few things I’d like to do first; have my own children and see them through till they’re about 30. I’d say at 30 you can probably handle a parental death, perhaps? And I’m not allowed to die before Boyfriend does.. unless I take him with me. Interesting thought. Ideally we’d die at the same time. But if he goes first, the children reach 30, I’m out of here. If anyone particularly needs me beyond then, then I’ll stick around but I doubt it.
I do wonder why I feel like this. I wonder if it’s because my own mother was 39 when she had me. I remember when she turned 50 I was so worried that she was going to die. (I’m now not worried about that- because she will die, as everyone does. I just hope it’s as pain-free as possible.) I don’t know how exactly that has impacted me, but I feel it has. I also almost never see my grandparents as they live in Spain, and find it hard to imagine what quality of life they have aged 89 and 93. I suspect relatively low.
I also think it quite likely that I don’t mind dying because I believe in heaven. Where you get to live amonst the clouds. I’ve always loved clouds. These can be used a trampoline, eaten, or used as a duvet. Oh, and everyone you love is there, to hang out with. And the real them is in their own personal heaven so it doesn’t matter if you upset that version of them by accident.
I also hope by the time I am the death-age, they’ve invented some nice pain-free legal death mechanisms. Perhaps with the feeling of laughing gas as you go? That’d be good.
2. Who Am I?