I remember the first time I heard the Queen song, 'who wants to live forever'. You may well remember it as being from the epic 80's Christopher Lambert movie 'Highlander'.
Not the best picture, but the only one I could find with the usage-rights I needed.
There can be only one!
Lambert played Connor MacLeod who was an immortal, I will spare you the spoilers, although I have gotta say if you haven't already watched the movie some 35 years later... Chances are you never will.
I was familiar with the song long before I saw the movie, when I did, it played in the scene where the immortal Connor holds his dying wife in his arms. The childish notion that many of us harbour when we are young of living forever is sharply brought into focus with this one scene.
Immortality could just possibly be the greatest curse anyone could ever know living in a world surrounded by mortals.
It's a concept that is touched on in almost every piece of vampire literature ever created. The truly terrifying idea of outliving everyone you ever loved over and over again. I imagine that eventually, you would become resigned, hardened, and almost immune to grief, what kind of creature would you be by this stage though?
I found the song to be very emotional and the lyrics touched me in a way I couldn't quite explain. With hindsight, I guess it was pretty obvious, even to the dumb 'know it all' teenager that I was back then. The question, 'Who wants to live forever?' Also makes the insinuation, one day you will die...
This is hardly a newsflash, right? This one ultimate, truism contains no ambiguity, is not open to interpretation, and is pretty much accepted by every person on the planet both alive and... Well, you know how that sentence ends...
The thing is, despite the fact we all know what a risky business life is, (no one gets out alive), it's still a grim reality we don't dwell on for too long in any one sitting. This can never change the fact that our ultimate, inescapable demise is a lurking specter, ever-present, on some level, somewhere in the human psyche, whether we are consciously aware of it or not.
Many of us, me more than most, I think, make light of the fact that if we were goods on the shelf in a supermarket, we would be marked perishable. We like to make believe that we are becoming better at discussing the topic of death, specifically our own death.
There's something colossal about the whole idea though, wouldn't you agree? So many of those BIG questions that we can never ever gain answers to (while we are alive and kicking of course,) revolve around this huge event that happens immediately after our 'final bow'.
I think this was possibly the longest setup even I, have ever done to the real topic of a post... That IS saying something.
I recently came across a community putting on a mass gathering in October this year called RAADFEST 2021. (RAAD - Revolution Against Aging and Death).
Their tagline used on marketing materials for the conference is:
Design your superlongevity... Build the blueprint for your unlimited future.
I am familiar with a few of the speakers as this is a subject I have long had an interest in. If you are familiar with my posts you may have heard me mention 'gerontology' before, it is the scientific study of aging. I sincerely believe it to be one of the most challenging, pioneering, and fascinating subjects being discussed in the world today.
It is built on the premise that there is no reason based on scientific fact that suggests we have to die. Yup, you read that right. It is a hypothesis that rightly causes controversy and divides expert opinion whenever it is discussed. We can all understand without too much deep thought why this would be.
Consider the following fact though. For the last few decades, human lifespan potential has expanded at roughly 3 months per year. Simply put, for every year we live, we gain an extra quarter of a year, tagged on to the back end of our life, pretty cool, right? Maybe.
With stem cell research yielding some truly staggering revelations. With modern medicine being able to prolong life longer than ever before. With our understanding of free radicals and oxidation of cells, it is not difficult to imagine that 3 months per year figure creeping up to around 5 or 6 months per year.
6 months would equate to a 100-year lifespan (which is becoming commonplace) being expanded to 150 years. Remember this is based on some pretty solid evidence that is accepted widely. 150 years of age already feels like it is within the realms of Sci-Fi, right?
Let's take that reasoning one step further. Like any scientific breakthrough, extra tweaks and enhancements will add tiny, incremental growth to that amount, right? So imagine, one-day science of the future causing that figure to crawl up even further...
Here is the real crux of the matter, if that amount of extra lifespan ever crept up to the 12 months per year lifespan extension, we just essentially created immortality...
Live one year, gain another free! A rolling contract that never ends, (like an appallingly bad cell phone provider) unless the scales tip too far out of your favour, with regard to illness.
The conference I mentioned, has been organised by the 'Coalition for Radical Life Extension' They are a non-profit organisation that plans to take humanity to the stage when death is no longer an inevitability.
You may well be familiar with Dave Asprey the 'bulletproof coffee' guy. He founded 'bulletproof media' I have heard him discuss some mind-blowingly radical topics on various podcasts and youtube videos. I believe he was the first person to claim he had been injected at various sites on his body with his own stem cells and experienced a massive rejuvenation in all areas.
Here is a fact that abso-bloody-lutely blew my mind when I first learned of it. A human stem cell kept in a petri dish in a lab can effectively live forever. The cells just keep on multiplying (kept under the right conditions of course) with no marked deterioration from one cell to the next. These embryonic stem cells are known as blank slate cells, these are the ones you have heard of being used in countless medical procedures nowadays.
This is like having a self-perpetuating production line of raw materials, that will keep on producing forever and ever.
Isn't that truly amazing?
You could probably guess that such treatments are still too expensive for the great and the good to afford. These things are always affordable and available to the extremely wealthy, initially.
From my laymans, non-scientific understanding, if you have your own stem cells injected to a particular localised site, let's say your dodgy hip, that is the area that receives the biggest therapeutic boost.
People with macro degenerative eye disorders have had injections of stem cells directly to the eye and reported hugely significant improvements in visual acuity, results are pretty compelling, to be honest.
Impotent males have reported an increase of libido comparable to that of much younger men after localised (bloody painful sounding) injections.
Add to this kind of medical breakthrough an increased ability to look after muscular and skeletal health and you can see many of the ravages of age may well be pretty close to being eradicated.
In my opinion, if there is one area of immense significance, between genetic research and an almost god-like ability to read, clone, and repair human cells the key to immortality could well be unlocked in the very near future. This however has a lot of ethical and existentially challenging ramifications.
Who would we be without the existential threat of an eventual, cosmic expiry date? Would life have any real significance if it were not finite? Would this actually regress our ability to cope with and come to terms with grief?
The questions raised are almost as infinite as the human lifespan after such revelationary developments in science and medicine.
For instance, there would always be death from an illness that has reached an uncontrollable stage. There would always be accidental death. So I wonder if death were no longer an inevitable close on a life well-lived, would the grief be all the more profound, unbearable perhaps?
There were many more topics I wanted to touch on in this post, such as autophagy and fasting and the effect they can have with regard to clearing the body of dead and corrupted cells. Biohacking and how this can radically transform the you of today into a younger copy of you. I would have liked to delve into transhumanism, it's both creepy and inevitable but could lead to a war between the humans and the cyborgs one day...
I also wanted to discuss Aubrey De Gray Ph.D., a biomedical gerontologist who absolutely believes we have the scientific breakthroughs and knowledge at hand today to proclaim that a person who will live to the 1000 years of age mark is probably alive today...
As I am conscious of the length of this post already, I will resolve to write a follow-up as there are some truly remarkable recent discoveries I would like to touch on. I had an absolute blast writing this post as I find this topic so utterly enthralling and perception-shattering.
You may have heard me discuss my goal of being in better shape at 50 (next year) in all areas of my life than I was at 40 many times. Perhaps now you will have some insight into the experimental techniques I will be trying over the next year.
I would like to lift a few words from the post I wrote yesterday night as I believe they have a little more resonance if you have read this far...
To describe me as middle-aged today places the not insignificant burden upon me of living to the ripe old age of 100, assuming I can complete that seemingly unlikely task, I am resolved to not spending the second half of my life in the same way as the first.
Maybe I have only lived a third of my life today, maybe a quarter or maybe, just maybe, I am that 1000-year-old man Aubrey De Gray was referring to.
Imagine that? I may finally be able to write the posts I want to and dissect all the topics I really want to in 1000 years, it's the only way I will ever accomplish everything I want to in my lifetime.
I still feel compelled to ask the question I posed at the start of this post one more time though, as it may require slightly more thought than it did 10 minutes ago...
Who wants to live forever?
Thank YOU for taking the time to read my post & if you're one of those amazing people who like to hit the comments section... Then I doubly thank YOU!
Either way, I want you to know that you are appreciated!
Keep taking the time to connect with each other both here & in the 'so-called' real-world & try & look after each other, because as you already know...