What Would You Do With 20 Extra Years?

Let us examine this hypothetical: as an adult of middle or later life, you suddenly find you have twenty extra years of health and no further aging, inserted into your life starting right now, this instant. How does this change your plans? How does this change the pressures you feel?

Twenty years is a very long time. Look back at the person you were twenty years ago, what you knew, how skilled you were, where your focus was - a great deal of change since then, no? It's time enough for two professions, an accomplished mastery, a brace of novels, or five or six attempts to build a winning startup company. Time enough to build and change a dozen rewarding social circles, or save enough money to retire in modest leisure for a couple of decades.

Are there good reasons why you haven't take a few years off to be a low-cost traveler around the world? To learn blacksmithing because you think it's interesting? To work for a non-profit and give your time to an important cause? If you have additional decades given to you, would those reasons change?

These hypotheticals are not quite so hypothetical, of course. They are all worth thinking about, because one day, sometime prior to 2020, those us who grew under the learned expectation of threescore-and-ten-and-then-you're-old-and-done - dripping from every education in the classics, or daily saturation in popular culture for that matter - will suddenly realize that the real world has actually become something more like fourscore-and-ten, with that limit increasing at a fair clip.

The systems biologists seem fairly confident that the scientific community will manage that gain just through becoming generally better across the board in medicine - without even trying too hard to tackle aging as a chronic medical condition with specific causes that can be addressed. The actuaries, whose billion-dollar clients falter or thrive by the slightest change in mortality rates or longevity, see longer lives ahead. The leading signs are there - and that isn't to even mention the growing community of researchers directly engaged in scientific work to halt and reverse aging.

So: 20 extra years. Think about it. What is that worth to you? Worth enough to help make it happen?

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If I found out I would top out at 20 more years I'd give up right now and go back to Big Xtras with double mayo and extra of cheese and just enjoy whatever life I have left.

The only reason I'm limiting myself on some of the essential pleasures of life is for the prospect of hundreds, thousands, billions? of years. My effort just isn't worth 20-30% more.

Of course 20 years gives that much more time to keep the ticker going until such a vision can be fulfilled, but if that's all there was, it would really mean nothing to me.

Posted by: Nuttfister at April 21st, 2007 10:16 PM
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