Is long life a worthy pursuit?
Does it deserve so much of our effort?
[No, this is not a post about drinking less soda and eating more kale—although kale is good stuff.]
Most of us will live for 60 or 70 years, and if we live any longer it will probably be in nursing homes, wearing bathrobes and rolling around in wheelchairs. Long life takes a lot out of a person. We feel that truth every time we visit a grandparent or look through an old photo album.
Living for many years is like gaining knowledge; large collections are impressive, but what matters is what you do with all of it.
“Better to know a few things which are good and necessary than many things which are useless and mediocre.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
We can know a lot about something, but it won’t matter unless we know why those facts are important. I am all for gaining knowledge; it’s just that sometimes knowledge gets in the way of wisdom—actually putting that knowledge into practice.
Wisdom isn’t what you know; it’s how you use what you know. (tweet that)
It’s like that with our lives, too.
How To Live A Full, Long Life
We think modern medicine and science can keep us alive for longer, which is largely true, but the length of our lives doesn’t guarantee the same quality of life. The longer our bodies live, the lower our quality of life becomes.
The Intensive Care Unit at any hospital will prove that just because someone can stay alive doesn’t mean he or she will have a good life. There is a significant difference between living longer and living well.
Just like more things don’t equal better things, more years on earth don’t equal better years.
Quantity doesn’t promise quality.
Perhaps we should reframe the question.
Don’t ask, “How many more years can I live?” Ask, “How much life can I pack into the years I have left?” (tweet that)
“It is not that we have a short time to live, but that we waste a lot of it. Life is long enough, and a sufficiently generous amount has been given to us for the highest achievements if it were all well invested. But when it is wasted in heedless luxury and spent on no good activity, we are forced at last by death’s final constraint to realize that it has passed away before we knew it was passing. So it is: we are not given a short life but we make it short, and we are not ill-supplied but wasteful of it…
Life is long if you know how to use it.” – Seneca
Here’s to making life last.
What is one thing you do to live a full life?