So much of our life is lost on needless worries. Especially worrying how long we are going to live. What is it that makes us so concerned about our life expectancy? Life expectancy is nothing but a number and of course, we are obsessed with numbers. It doesn’t matter if it is money, our years, schooling, vacation days, things we possess or don’t possess, you name it. One of our favorite question is probably: “How much?” or “How many?”
It’s sad really when we think about it. Putting always quantity above quality. Many people spend so much time and money looking for ways to extend their life. Buying expensive drugs and supplements or undertaking time-consuming and dangerous practices just to perhaps gain a few extra years.
But it never occurs to them that they probably lose more years with this madness that they in the end get back if they even get them back. Spanish explorer Ponce de Leon was supposedly searching his whole adult life for a so-called Fountain of Youth – a magical spring to regain his youthfulness – but it was all in vain because he never found it.
The truth is a method for life extension actually exists right now and is available to every single person. It’s called presence and to be honest, it’s not so much a method as it is a state of being. Being in the present moment. Being here and now. The opposite of being present is being absent which is what we usually are. Stuck in our heads and ruminating about the past or future. When that is happening we are not really alive, we are merely existing.
How many times do we for instance go for a walk just to come back and not really remember what we have seen, heard, or otherwise sensed? Not really noticing our surroundings because we were too busy chasing after our thoughts or habitually watching the same show in our mind over and over again. If we are at least a little bit aware we’ve just noticed when we step through the door that we’ve missed on a beautiful walk.
Sure, we can go on another walk tomorrow or the next day but will it be any different? How will we notice anything then if we will be stuck in our head again? What difference does it make to extend our existence if we are not present when life is happening? If we are not really alive? So what if we extend our life just to relive it in the guild of the past or anxiety of the future?
Seneca famously said: “It is not that we have a short time to live, but that we waste a lot of it. […] Life is long if you know how to use it.” It doesn’t matter what we do, where we do it, or with whom we do it until we first learn how to do it. So why invest so much time pondering how to extend life? Shouldn’t we rather first learn how to live because it is a small part of life we really live.
Photo by Sayan Ghosh