Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Life Everlasting?

How long do you want to live?

Eileen's post today inspired me to ask the question. Believe it or not, that question is a frequent topic of discussion for me and one of my walking buddies. We often meet at 6:00 a.m. (or even earlier, depending on the time of year) to do a 4-mile loop around my old neighborhood. We talk about a lot of stuff on those walks...

My friend and I both recoil in horror at the idea of living to be 90 or 100. I guess we've both seen too many relatives reach the point where they are breathing, rather than living.

It's easy, of course, to make declarations in a vacuum---when the choices you think you'd make are all abstract and don't really affect your life. But, at this point, I think that I would probably refuse major medical treatment after 70 or so. I'd do pain alleviation or minor things that would make me comfortable, but heart surgery? Treatment for breast cancer? I'm just not sure I would.

I'm not afraid of dying. In fact, I am much less afraid of dying than I am of suffering or reaching a point where I am dependent on others for all my needs.

I know this is a form of pride---and pride is a sin. I tell myself that a lot. But I have a gut-level, negative reaction to the idea that breathing/existing is to be gripped with both hands, no matter what the cost.

I certainly would never impose my views on anyone else---most particularly not on any relative or other person in my care. But I don't want to live forever.

I'm too interested to see what comes next to want to remain trapped here in a body that exists but cannot live a life that feels meaningful to me.

What do YOU say?