This morning, while I was driving, this thought finally came together – what will we do with ourselves when/(if) we live longer lives. I’ve had conversations with friends and family about extended longevity and I get varying opinions from we aren’t meant to live longer than we do, to where will we put all the people and what about the additional resources we’ll all consume.
I’ve been thinking in different terms. Our lives are very narrowly defined by their span. When we’re young, we aspire to grow up. I remember thinking, oh it’s going to be so great once I grow up. I’ll be able to do whatever I want, stay up late, have fun all the time, no one to tell me what to do etc. You probably remember this too. I know my son thinks this way – I hear it nightly when it’s his bedtime.
When we’re teenagers, we aspire to be adults. I remember thinking how great it would be to be able to buy my own things – large complicated and expensive things, like cars etc and the freedom they would provide.
When we’re young adults we aspire to be done with our education so we can get on and begin to enjoy our lives and the fruits of our labours. When we’re mid-life we aspire to be done with our debts and responsibilities that somehow materialized during all the acquisition of our laborious fruits. When we’re approaching retirement age, we look forward to all the time we’ll have to travel, see the world, to being done with deadlines, timelines and schedules – okay I’m extrapolating on this one since I’m not there yet.
The point is who ever you are, where ever you are, you have a path you would like to follow and most likely it’s built upon and modeled from the paths of your predecessors and contemporaries. All that we have to look forward to has been honed and refined over many generations to fit into the span of our time. Now what will happen if that span is suddenly lengthened? What will we do with ourselves? I’ve always simply thought I would just do more of what I already do. Perhaps dig deeper and longer since I would have more time.
But seriously what do you think you would do? Start another career or start another family? Become an explorer of some new or existing frontier? What?
This will shortly become an issue for many of us – certainly our children.