Who Wants to Live Forever?

Who Wants to Live Forever? February 5, 2019

1986 saw the release of Highlander, starring Christopher Lambert, Sean Connery, Clancy Brown, and Roxanne Hart. This fantasy action film depicts a long-standing battle between immortal warriors. The soundtrack by Queen is excellent, and their song “Who Wants to Live Forever” really stands out. Highlander depicts the challenges of being immortal – inciting fear and mistrust among mortals as well as dealing with loneliness resulting from the pain of repeatedly watching mortal companions age and die.

From the movie “Highlander.” Image licensed under fair use.

Most religions teach the existence of an afterlife, meaning the concept of having an immortal soul, but the devil is in the details. Despite comforting words from numerous religious teachers, many of us continue to fear the reaper, regardless of how much the cowbell is rung to announce his arrival.

It is this fear of death that has led talented individuals over the centuries to pursue a quest for physical immortality. Alchemists immediately spring to mind along with their efforts to manufacture an elixir of eternal life. There are persistent legends of individuals who lived for centuries. While physical immortality remains elusive for everyone else, it is certainly possible to extend the average person’s life.

A complementary approach of removing factors which shorten life and adding factors which extend life is a logical systematic approach. The speed with which this is achieved is individualized. Some people will be capable of totally overhauling their lives very quickly. For others, transformation will be slower, and so a gradual reduction in life shortening factors and a gradual increase in life extending factors may work best. Unfortunately, a short period of optimizing life isn’t enough – the average person needs a permanent lifestyle change.

A poor diet will undermine an exercise program, while a solid diet and exercise program will be undermined by drugs, stress and lack of spiritual fulfilment. Balancing the triad of body, mind and spirit is the surest strategy for success.

While removing life shortening factors will lead to living one’s full allotted lifespan, advances in modern medicine allow for the possibility of going beyond this allotted lifespan. I hope that such advances aren’t limited to the ultra-wealthy.

Striving for an extra few years of watching the grass grow is surely pointless. It’s quality of life that counts, which means being healthy, interacting socially with family and friends, and engaging in enjoyable activities. The term “health” goes beyond the physical, and includes mental and spiritual aspects.

“The School of Athens” by Raphael (not the turtle). From WikiMedia.

I believe that the secret to living a long full life is through a holistic approach where balance is strived for in body, mind and spirit. The exact details of how to go about this will vary for each individual.

The more I investigate techniques for optimizing the length and quality of life there more I see that virtually everything was preempted by ancient cultures, particularly that of the Greeks. Did any culture value athletic prowess more than the Greeks? The Greeks prided themselves on their deep thinkers, and Socrates is considered the father of western philosophy. The Greeks were particularly devoted to the gods, making religion an integral part of their lives. The list goes on – for virtually everything that we require for life enhancement, there is a Greek precedent. Truly it has been said that there is nothing new under the sun.

In this blog, I propose to discuss ways of optimizing the length and quality of our lives by referring to a mixture of contemporary developments and comparing them to Greek precedents whenever possible.

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