What really is longevity?

For some odd reason, I have been thinking about, mortality and frailty of life. Some of it is with the passing of icons of my youth — Prince and Tom Wolfe, for example. The other is just because I can’t stop asking the question: but, why?

Not a day goes by when we hear about a new breakthrough that will make us live forever. Many billions are being spent to challenge the order of the universe. And I am often left with the question — why?

Why do we have to live forever? Is that the most optimum use of our planet’s rapidly depleting resources. What does the overall society gain if we live forever? Perhaps. Two decades into the twenty-first century, we humans, have evolved into the most efficient narcissist and selfish animals.

Having gone to the very dark edge between life and death, all I know that longevity and immortality don’t interest me as much. The reasons to live forever are selfish — you want to be with your family longer, you want to be more successful, and you want to be more prosperous. Of course, some might want to live longer to changing the world and helping others and saving lives.

Why do we have to define human longevity only in biological terms? Why not think about it in a more meta-physical manner? For me, the real question then is: do we want to live longer or live better.

And what does living longer really mean? Every time I put a Miles Davis or John Coltrane record, they are very much alive. I re-read The Bonfire of Vanities by Tom Wolfe this past weekend as an homage to the great author, and he will live with me forever. Even to this date Ansel Adams is defining and re-defining the world of photography. Isn’t that longevity? Leaving something behind that lives forever.

P.S.: This interview with Tom Wolfe in The Paris Review is a must read.

May 24, 2018, San Francisco. 

Photo by Om. Ocean Beach, San Francisco.

A letter from Om

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