Erm… Oops?

So I managed to space two weeks running. Lately what passes for my brain has apparently gone into hiding on a tropical island somewhere and is making nice with the fancy drinks with little umbrellas in them and enjoying the scenery. The bitch probably has pool boys included in said scenery, too.

So, my apologies. I did not intend to space out and completely forget to post. Nor did I intend to find myself so brain-dead after work that I’m basically rambling on screen. The assorted joys of my medical issues don’t help, but it’s not like I’m not familiar with them. Then I find out that a friend/acquaintance lost the fight with cancer last week – I’m not sure if she’d made her 40s or not, but she was about that much younger than me. Way the hell too young to be hit by something like that.

It’s something I’m seeing more as I get older: the awareness that I don’t have unlimited time to do things. That sooner or later it all stops. And yet, inside I don’t really feel any older than I did in my twenties. Or thirties. Or forties. I will admit to being thankful the angsty teen years are long gone, though. I could do without a repeat of those – hell, once was more than enough.

Small wonder that ways to live longer or just plain not die show up all over the place in fantasy and science fiction: I don’t think any of us really wants to find out what happens when living stops. Heck, it’s a challenge to find people who are prepared to acknowledge that time changes us. I might feel much the same as I used to on the inside, but I’m well aware that on the outside a lot of things are way different including wobbly balance and a decided caution when descending stairs compared to the way I used to go flying down the things.

I’m not even sure that living longer is necessarily a good thing. Can you imagine an eternity of “Mum, I’m bored“? I can, and it’s not a nice thought. As for dramatically extending old age, well, that’s not particularly enjoyable either. Right now a healthy fifty-year-old might be more or less equivalent to a healthy forty-ish of the 1900s, but usually but that 40-ish person would probably have another 20-25 years, the last five or so with everything falling apart. Today’s 50-something could easily manage another 40 plus years, with everything falling apart on them for the last 20. There are some ways the shorter lifespan is kinder.

Yes, I am terrified of the prospect of being trapped in a failing body for years on end. It’s bad enough keeping the damn thing running now. But who knows? Maybe tomorrow some clever sod will figure out how to extend what seems to be a hard limit in the 110 to 120 years range (there’s definitely a difference between life expectancy and maximum lifespan – the former is the one that can be extended easily by all the things we’ve been doing over the last hundred and some years where the latter is likely to take genetic-level tweaking to change). Or we’ll all get hit by a bus or something.

The point is, there’s no way to tell what’s coming. It’s fun to speculate on it and write stories about what could be or what might have been, but in the end, well, I’ve personally found that when it comes to what might happen in my personal future it’s better not to worry too much about what might happen until it actually manifests.

And if you got something sensible out of that little ramble, you have my sincere congratulations.


  1. I most definitely did get something out of what you called rambling. Maybe it is a symptom of my advancing age … 😉

    I find I have a diminishing desire to live an extra twenty or more years of falling apart. If mankind could find a way to extend vigorous healthy years I might reconsider … it is nice to dream of what I might do and where I would travel if it were possible.

  2. I started having joint pain in grade school. Not a lot, just enough to be annoying. Now that I’m approaching 50 in a couple years, I’ve realized that I’ve been compensating for it without even realizing. Like the old joke, “Hey Doc, it hurts when I do THIS!” Doc: “Well stop doing that”. Except, I haven’t even bothered to think about it let alone talk to a doctor about it. Now, however, the subconscious compensating has started to become more noticeable, and it sometimes hits me “When did I stop doing X?”… Or, when did stairs start becoming difficult? In my defense, it was a rather long flight of somewhat steeper-than-normal stairs. It’s still not (usually) enough pain to be any more than annoying… but now that I’ve noticed that it’s worse than it used to be, I worry about what it’s going to be like in 10 or 20 years. 50 more years? I can’t even imagine.

    Funny thing is, I never considered that I would make it this far. In school, I was voted “most likely to die before the age of 25”, although the yearbook staff didn’t allow them to put it that the yearbook. Yea, we were a rather morbid class, our class flower was a red rose because we were TOLD it would be after the class voted for a black rose, and the school administration freaked out about it (small school in the Bible belt in the 80s. They freaked out about a lot of stuff.)

    1. I got a very useful old exercise therapy book (Pain Free by Pete Egoscue), that basically said a lot of joint and muscle pain is caused by all the repetitive stuff we do, or uneven areas in our bodies. Different strong muscles and joints try to compensate for the muscles that have gotten weak, and it gets messier from there.

      But the thing to do is to exercise stuff more equally, and both sides of the body, not just the parts that are less strong; it helps the less strong area catch up. (I guess Rippetoe says similar things about loadlifting exercises.) And he tells/shows you exercises to treat specific problems.

      I was skeptical, but it had some good, simple ankle exercises that really helped my ankle and knee pain. (And I’ve had trouble with my ankles since one of my charming classmates dropped a seesaw on my foot, back in second grade.)

      Obviously you should consult your doctor, but it is full of good stuff that has helped my various twinges that have emerged in middle age.

  3. Can you imagine an eternity of “Mum, I’m bored“? I can, and it’s not a nice thought.

    I believe there’s a Mark Twain quote to the effect of, “Many people long for eternal life who have no idea what to do with themselves on a rainy Sunday afternoon.”

    As far as my own opinions on the subject go…I like having a vigorously healthy body, but even if it should break down, I could still lie on the couch and read or write or surf the internet or play video games. I would fear the loss of my mind more, but even there it seems entirely possible that dementia-suffering me could find all sorts of enjoyment in things that right-now me finds boring or pointless.

    So while I definitely don’t want to live forever, I’m up for living a lot longer.

    1. One of my friends remarks on (I believe) her father, who when he was younger was always a staunch believer that he’d rather get in the box than deal with, well, all the helplessness/loss of function/mind diminishing of severe age. Apparently since then he’s gone a fair bit into dementia or Alzheimer’s or something and, well. He really likes rainbows and sunsets.

      I’m figuring she’s papering over a lot of surrounding frustrations, but I have noticed that a lot of people seem to have less trouble valuing something once they get there than they had before the fact.

    2. > have no idea what to do with themselves on a rainy Sunday afternoon

      My to-do list has a to-do list…

      In the last few years I’ve had to give up several hobbies and abort some ongoing projects, because it doesn’t look like I’ll live long enough to do much with them.

      1. Yeah, I find that I have more to do (mostly good stuff) than I will ever have TIME to do. I’m choosing to structure my calendar to always get to the core things, and put in some just for fun things.
        It works – mostly.

  4. I’ll settle for them figuring out how to reinvigorate and heal the aging body. If it doesn’t postpone the end date, so what? I’m 25 years younger than my parents, 34 years younger than two of my grandparents. I’ll take a healthy active thinking 25 or more years over an extended life span any day.

    1. This. I dread the idea of dementia. A healthy mind in a staggering body I could work around (things like ALS being the terrible exception), but I fear slowly loosing my faculties, especially if I knew things were going.

  5. Can you imagine an eternity of “Mum, I’m bored“? I can, and it’s not a nice thought.

    In a lot of ways, I’d say Wil McCarthy’s “The Wellstone” is a novelization of this very thing…

  6. I had an idea of a bored immortal going into stasis, to be awoken when history got interesting. Not sure where to take it, though.

    1. Well, the interesting parts of history tend to shorten life expectancies dramatically. Depending on how immortal he is:

      “Welcome back! We need you for what, for anyone else, would be a suicide mission! You’ve been conscripted, we’re going to install a nuclear bomb in your gut, and you’re going to get enslaved by the aliens and smuggle the bomb into their capitol and detonate it! You asked for interesting . . .”

    2. This kind of exists. The Worthing Saga. I don’t remember who wrote it (OK, fine, looked it up: Orson Scott Card). One section of it was a society that the richer and/or more important you were, the more you slept, until it all went sideways – as witnessed by actual immortals, not sleeping through time folks.

      1. Joan D Vinge also had one of these, with a trader in antiquities who bought stuff cheap, then slept until they were antiquities and curiousities. And when society got too stable, that was bad for business… “The Peddler’s Apprentice” is a great read. 🙂

  7. Lemuel Gulliver visited a land in his Travels where certain of the people did not die. It was worse than Mum, I’m bored! though, because those so cursed still aged at normal rates. And kept on aging.

    Damn, would that suck the life out of you! Maybe worse than a vampire’s bite.

    I’m thoroughly on board for the “Let’s NOT get dementia” plan, too, though. I see enough of it in my MIL (long story).

  8. In my universe (should it ever get put on paper), I decided an average healthy lifespan of around 200 years was sufficient. Enough future involved (2500s) that it needs to be much better than we’ve got now, but immortals have issues I didn’t want to deal with.

    For example, promotion becomes impossible for the young. I suppose if we’re colonizing other star systems, populations in the quadrillions keep new opportunities opening up.

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