It’s Like We’re Not the Same Species

Jane Gilsenan, who lived to be 111, just died. She was interviewed last month and when asked if she had any tips for living so long she said, “I have none, and I wouldn’t give them away because I wouldn’t wish it on anybody.”

WHAT?? WHAT?? I want to live forever and when forever is done I want to do it again. Not Jane. She said, “I can’t say I regret it, but I wouldn’t want to do this again.”

I just don’t get that. Blows my mind. The full article is here, with pictures. I’m hardly the Pollyanna type, in fact I think a lot about life and people suck, and I’ve had to endure some nearly unendurable things. Who hasn’t? But there’s enough to make it worthwhile. More than worthwhile. Maybe extreme old age is a lot worse than I think.

A building I shot walking along the river. Don’t those poles remind you of the masts on a ship?


Stacy Horn

I've written six non-fiction books, the most recent is Damnation Island: Poor, Sick, Mad, and Criminal in 19th-Century New York.

View all posts by Stacy Horn →

10 thoughts on “It’s Like We’re Not the Same Species

  1. I think it was Mickey Mantle who said: If I knew I was going to live this long, I’d have taken better care of myself.” – The enjoyment old age, I think, is enhanced somewhat by going into it having done a bit of preventative maintenance. As for wanting to live forever, I don’t know. There might be something to said for getting on to the second act. – Those masts? One appears to be a flagpole; the other is definitely a high frequency radio antenna. Wonder who the people in that building are talking to?

  2. That’s exactly how I feel, Stacy! I don’t want to die and I think of it every day. I’m only 41 but I would love to live to be 100 or more 🙂

  3. After 40 years of serious study, my view is that this whole proposition is a reductionistic canard.

    My view is that right now we are alive and living in a physical universe. The body is an exquisite suit we have donned in order to operate in this dimension, much as we put on deep-sea diving suits to operate under water or space suits to operate outside a space capsule.

    After we have completed the death process, we are alive and living in a different dimension under different conditions.

    Even Jung came to the conclusion that there was no reason for consciousness to be seen as an epiphenomenon of the body. So I believe that to define being alive exclusively in the physical phase would be a reduction and limitation, and therefore inaccurate.

    (Of course, it took me 40 years of relentless study and practice to come to this conclusion. Still, I do believe that it is a more hopeful way to look at the subject.)

  4. The idea of living forever is my worst nightmare. Second worst nightmare – living to a hundred, or even 80. I like to think of death as a chance for a do-over..a tabula rasa. I want to die and come back in a different, more attractive body. And be a trust fund baby. 🙂

  5. Way cool! Now you’re talking about reincarnation that I can get behind!

    People say to me, Greg! What do you want!? And I say I want to be younger, richer, and better looking. (I got it from a Ross McDonald novel.)

  6. I’ve been fascinated with those who live past 100 for a long time. Lately two women in the USA died at the age of 114. What intriques me is that if you study these cases a bit, especially relating to healthy/unhealthy habits you’ll see there’s no particular reason why they live so long. In interviews their answers to that question are all over the map — some ate healthy, some didn’t (my fav was the Russian woman – 112 – who said she ate Gherkins/pig fatback & drank vodka every day!) However, if there’s a similarity among them all, most come from families who are long lived. I think genetics plays a big part in aging — tweaking with a good diet, exercise, no bad habits like smoking can help, but without the genetics, none of that will get you past 100. Not sure their “attitude” toward life helps much either; some say they are positive thinkers, others seem to downright hate life. Still a mystery!

  7. Total mystery. So I cross my fingers and hope for the best, but my mother died at 66. My father is pretty hardy though, and still going at 80 something.

    Stacie and Greg, ha! Yeah. Do-vers only work for me if there’s some persistence of my former self/consciousness. Like I get to wake up in a new life and say, “YAY!!”

  8. Greg, I totally missed your post. Yeah, i’m half way there, except as you can see from my previous post, I’m not sure that the consciousness that dons this suit continues without it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Share via
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap