Do you want to live forever?

I recently viewed a news article about an amazing advancement in technology that could quite possibly keep a heart beating indefinitely. It got me thinking. Would I want to live forever?

live forever

My immediate answer was “No way!”

I love my life. It’s a life I’ve created and sustained. But I have no desire to keep it going forever. Or for even 100 more years. In a few years I’ll be hitting the half century mark of life, and I’m totally okay with that.

Obviously, this machine won’t enable someone to live forever. Just because the heart is still beating doesn’t mean the rest of the body is going to cooperate, but the concept was interesting to me.

Having worked in hospice for many years, I’m no stranger to seeing how some people fight against death, sometimes bitterly, or even ageing. I understand someone not wanting to die, especially when they’re 38 years old (or younger). But living forever?

People who expressed a desire to greatly extend their life also shared that they feel like they’re living their life for other people instead of for themselves.

I shared the article on Facebook and received some interesting comments, some of which made me ponder why I feel the way I do.

It seemed to come down to what you think about your life in the moment. The people who expressed a desire to greatly extend their life also shared that they feel like they’re living their life for other people instead of for themselves.

That really hit me hard!

live forever

Perhaps because I’m living my dreams there is more of a sense of fulfillment. If that’s the case, then I’ll definitely shout “Mission accomplished!” My goal is to live without regrets, and I feel like I’m keeping true to that personal and family motto.

I also know that it’s easy to feel a certain way and have that attitude greatly challenged. After working in health care for so long, I had decided I wouldn’t go through radiation or chemotherapy if I ever developed cancer. Sure sometimes they work, but I just didn’t want to go through all that.

Not after what I’ve seen.

That is until 15 years ago when I walked out of the doctor’s office with a cancer diagnosis. All of a sudden I heard myself asking “So what do we do? Chemotherapy, radiation, surgery? All three?” I was ready to do it all. At least to give it a shot and see what happened.

In fact, the radiation oncologist told me that since my cancer was one of the most curable, we could even just watch and wait since the tumor had been removed and there was no sign of spread.

I couldn’t do it. For my mental health, I needed to do radiation. I needed to know that we had eradicated any microscopic cell that was just sitting there smugly thinking it had escaped. Especially since the likely metastatic path would be kidneys, lungs, and brain.

“Zap ’em!” I said.

I haven’t forgotten how ready I was to throw out those previously firmly held opinions.

I’m still young, and I hope I have MANY years left above ground. I’m quite enjoying life, but for now I’m cool with going when my time is up. I have no need to greatly extend those years.

How about you? Would you want to live forever? What would you do differently if you could live another 100 years?

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  1. I wouldn’t want to live forever but I also don’t believe the end of this life is totally the end. I don’t know what’s next but I hope when I die, I’m ready to accept it. My mum recently went through two types of chemo (one injected into spine) and radiotherapy. It makes us all treasure life in my family and it’s made me write again. I want to go after my dreams and make a life I love and that I can look back on and think wow, that was an adventure!

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    • That’s why we left traditional left behind. I don’t want to spend my final moments moaning about all that I missed out on. Instead I want to relive memories with my loved ones of all the adventures we DID have.

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  2. I saw that article and thought the same thing! I too am living my dreams and it is superb but I have to say that I have a lot of dreams that I want to live out and I feel like I am running out of time already! although FOREVER is a VERY long time, and I am not quite sure I want to be here to see the world implode one day… I wish scientists would worry more about curing cancer and AIDS before they worried about keeping people alive “forever”

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    • I definitely wouldn’t want to be here for the world imploding or when the sun finally dies. How awful.

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  3. Hey Talon,
    I’m really enjoying your articles.
    What type of cancer did you have? My son is a cancer survivor. He was diagnosed with non-hodgkins large b. cell lymphoma stage 3. He was 22. There was no question about treatment…kill that monster!!! He went through chemo and radiation and thankfully is now doing well. That put my travels to a halt lady year but I am so thankful he had the treatment and responded so well to it.
    Ps I don’t want to live forever.

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    • I had testicular cancer, seminoma, stage I. Normally when I get something I get a weird variety or something. I’m so glad that pattern didn’t hold for this, though!

      I’m glad your son is doing so well! I’m sure that was quite the fright.

      And yay that you’re enjoying the posts!

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  4. Gut reaction: No, I wouldn’t want to live forever. But then I realize that’s only because I worry about aging and not being physically and mentally able to the things that make life great. I don’t think there is a point to being alive if I can’t create, explore, express myself, or experience something new. As long as I could accomplish those things on some level, bring on forever!

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  5. I read in the newspaper the other day that they reckon the first person to live to 1000 will be born in the next 20 years. Wasn’t backed up by any hard evidence, but it’s still a crazy thought!

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  6. Not forever, but as long as my mind and body keep up with each other and I can stay active.

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    • That would have to be a caveat. I wouldn’t want to experience “normal ageing” during 100 years beyond what I’ve got already. Oh my!

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  7. I am not one of those living for other people. I live for myself only, I’m also travelling indefinetly (although only since August last year), and by quitting my job and travelling I basically crossed everything off my bucket list. So if I would die tomorrow I would go happily for my life was good.
    But of course I’d want to live forever. Imagine the change you’d see. 100 years? Look at what happened in the last 100 years: Two world wars, the decolonization of most of the world, a communist empire rising and falling, the fall of monarchies, the rise of democracy, emanzipation, the spread of human rights, flight, the theory of relativity, string theory, solar energy, space exploration, Dalí, Picasso, Welles, Wells, Huxley, Gandhi, Mandela…
    Imagine what the next 100 years will bring. And that’s only 100 years, imagine the next 1,000, the next 10,000 years.
    Of course I’d like to see all that.

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    • It would be interesting to see how the world changes in the next 100 years, but I really don’t want to be around that long.

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  8. Just heard a story on NPR about Dr Sherwin Nuland, who wrote How We Die, and just passed away on Monday. I think that in the last 20 years, because of his book, we all think differently abt dying – the process, and life itself. I don’t want to live forever. My body couldn’t keep up!

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    • I *might* feel differently if I knew the rest of my body would continue to be like it is right now AND I was independently wealthy.

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  9. I think having the opportunity to live forever would be great. Maybe it’s my age but I feel like there are so many places in the world that I’d like to see and one lifetime just isn’t enough. Imagine going to every country, experiencing everything and then by the time you get back it would probably be a whole other world at home.

    It’s probably rose tinted glasses and living in a fantasy, but it would be a good fantasy!

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