Like Duck to Water, thats how I have taken to life :). This blog is the saga of love and adventures of a small duck in a large water body called LIFE....

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Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Immor(t)ality?


What's the fuss all about?

It all started once upon a time ago (actually only last week :-D) when my cousin Dineshanna contested what has been the belief of my life, since I've some to understand a little bit of what life is, "Death is the ultimate truth". He asked me one thing - "Are you sure that death is the truth? What if people can be immortal? What if death is just a mind set?". Did the question rock the foundation of my belief? Nope ;-). But it did make me read up on some of the new theories being circulated and thats what this post is about. As usual here's my disclaimer:

"I'm neither supporting the Immortality theory, nor denying it completely (Basically am doing the cat on the wall thingy :-D). This post is just my opinion on the theories that people come up with and the possibilities if such a theory is proved (what am I talking about? :-D). The post and author of the post are again not to be held responsible if any of the readers feel like following the rules of the Immortality theory or feel like opposing it (!!). I'm open to healthy debates :-D."

What is the (in)famous Immortality theory?

im·mor·tal·i·ty
n.
1) The quality or condition of being immortal.
2) Endless life or existence.

Since humans have evolved, they have had the desire to live forever and this is what immortality signifies. As the wikipedia site says in detail, immortality is different for different people. But this post is about a particular immortality - the physical one. There have been theories circulating on internet about how you can physically and mentally become immortal. Just searching for "Immortality" or "Longevity" in Google will give you so many sites/results/support groups that you are bound to be surprised. These are people who believe that "Aging is an enemy"!! I dunno about you, but I was like "Aging is natural, so why should you consider it an enemy?".

The basic theory is that the genetic scientists are very close to finding results to living forever. So the people who support immortality claim that all we have to do is "live long enough to live forever". Absurd? Wonderful? You decide.

What needs to be done to live "long enough" according to the immortalists?

According to the Longevity Meme, the steps you have to follow not to age are:

  • Stop Damaging Your Health - Don't eat junk food, don't smoke, see a doc regularly, exercise.

  • Adopt a Better Diet and Lifestyle - calorie restriction diet, Take supplements, exercise

  • Support and Advocate Medical Research - Fund people who are researching on non-aging :-p.

Some things do make sense. I don't like smoking and generally try to avoid anyone who smokes. And since I've started working out, I do believe in regular exercize. And, yes, visiting a doctor and having regular check-ups is commendable and is necessary. And yes, avoiding junk food is also a good idea (even though when it comes to bhel puri and ice creams, I can't think straight ;-) :-D).

The problem is not when you decide to follow the rules. The problem is when the rules turn maniacal. People stop eating basic things like sugar and salt, avoid coffee altogether (guess its good to some extent :-D), don't eat vegetables that are non-organic and survive on salads completely. All this to avoid old age for heaven's sake? And after doing all this what if you do get old and do get diseases? Probably curse that all the dieting was for nothing? But it will be too late for that. For Eg: say I don't eat sugar (ice cream) and salt (bhel puri :-D) for years. Later I do end up getting blood pressure and diabetes. So I can't eat these then anyways. So I'll have the regret continuously that I could have enjoyed something, but I did not. All the sacrifice was for nothing. This might be a childish view, but I'd rather enjoy what I have now rather than not do it and regret that tomorrow! Be it just a matter of bhel puri and ice cream :-D. I would do it moderately though ;-).

What about people opposing the Immortalists?

Every "to" has to have a "fro". So there are obviously people who oppose the immortality theory. One of the sayings that I loved was:

"Immortality:
A toy which people cry for,
And on their knees apply for,
Dispute, contend and lie for,
And if allowed Would be right proud Eternally to die for."
- Ambrose Bierce


There was also another article in BBC by S Jay Olshansky which impressed me with its content. It does take all kinds of people to make this world :-D.

What's my take on the whole thing?

Do I want to be immortal? I don't know. I don't think so. I know one life is too short for me to see all I want to see and for me to do all the things I want to do. But still I don't want to be immortal. I might sound idealistic, but thats what I am. To me whats important is my family. If I consider my parents, its probably too late for them to follow the non-aging procedures and be immortal. As for Sri, my brother Darsh and myself, well maybe we can implement it and achieve immortality. I probably would want all of my family with me forever, but I cannot predict the same of my kids. They might not want me around once they are all grown up and might consider me as a pain in the neck ;-) (I am that most of the time anyways :-D). So what do I have to be immortal for? There will come a time, when I'd want to rest and die peacefully.

The following was a story I heard in my childhood:

It seems there was a king who once after severe meditation, pleased the gods and got the potion of longevity. But the condition of the gods was that he drink it himself and not share it with anyone. So he did that and was very happy for a long time.

But happiness does not last long. The parents he appreciated so much die. The queen he loved so much also dies in the passing time. Now his kids are older than him and will probably die tomorrow too. Whats the use of his youth when he can't enjoy it? He again prays to the Gods to grant him death.


Don't know whether he got his 2nd wish or not ;-). But this is the theme that a film also focuses upon to state the difference between robots and living beings - Robin Williams's "Bicentennial Man". Yes, the difference is the difference between immortality and death. That was one of the movies that touched my heart. What I mean here is that immortality will come with side effects. Maybe we will become like robots (as if we have not already turned into semi-robots, what with our software working cultures :-D)...

But more than that, immortality basically feels like greed to me. You have a life and you've lived it, however may it be. But you still want more. You plead "Nope I don't want to die, I don't want to age, I want to live forever". Is this anything other than greed? And haven't we all been taught that greed is evil? Why always the need for more? Why can't we, for once, be happy with what we have and what we get?

What's the end to it all?

What I don't see, I can't believe in. I've seen death all around me, so I believe in it. I haven't seen immortality anywhere, so I can't really believe in that. Maybe it exists, but until I get a "living" proof of it, I can't sacrifice little pleasures for what might not be that big a pleasure for me. You might ask me - "Hey you don't see God, then how come you believe?". Thats because every little thing around is a proof that there's a super natural power beyond our imagination. We are living proofs for God :).

Moreover, I think what is born has to die. Call me old-fashioned, accuse me of not being open to new ideas, but that is the truth. When the old dies, thats when there's new. You may really not want the old to die, you might want to hang on, but the old has been there for many years. It has seen many things and its tired. It wants to rest. Forever.

I'd like to say only one thing to the so-called immortalists. If you don't accept death and keep hoping/thinking that you are immortal, when death comes to you, in that last moment, you are bound to be disappointed. You are bound to have regrets. But if you accept that there's death, then if immortality happens, its like a bonus, is it not? ;-) :-D. So isn't it better to live life to the fullest, rather than save yourself for the tomorrow that is still a stranger to you?

Another quote before I end the post:

"We are immortal until our work on earth is done."
- George Whitefield


That I guess brings the post to its end. Thankfully, the post is not immortal eh? :-D

5 Comments:


Vanditha retorted...

Bingo...Whats the point living without loved ones around...

Just wanted to quote the lyrics of a hindi song

Socho na..zindagi mein kitne pal hain...
Doondo..ek pal mein kitne zindagi hain...


wise donkey retorted...

Wow.
well i pretty much agree with u (have space for another cat:D)

except on the bhelpuri stuff (ok i do love some of my food and think it should be in moderation and not totally banned ) but it doesnt mean food is the only pleasure.
so if at 50 u havent had icecream and then u get some disease and cant have ice cream. it doesnt mean life has been wasted.. there are other things to enjoy besides food.

and influences of food depends on individual. so if a non-smoking person gets cancer, its pointles to say oh i could have smoked. probably the cancer would have come Sooner. similarly if a person has diabetic tendency, and gets diabetic even after keepin away from sweets, doesnt mean that if the person had had sweet, the same would have happened. probly the sugar level would have increased more.


now coming back to immortality, well i dont want to live for ever, and i am not one against aging. but i wont mind postponing death as much as possible:) and not dying from some freak accident:D

lovely thought provoking post and you treated both concepts fairly. i didnt know about it.

and yeah who knows one day robots:(

your last line was the best
"We are immortal until our work on earth is done."
- George Whitefield

PS : God, i still have more work to do :)


Soumya retorted...

well, no matter in living so long when u don't have ur loved ones to share it with...
"Life is not the number of breaths u take; but the number of moments that take ur breath away"...love this quote...

have a great week & a happy new year yaar...am having a blast in boston...will write to u after i get back...

p.s: Mithra Drohi!! u haven't blogrolled vandu yet???


Deeps retorted...

>> Vandu >>

Great to have you blogging and moreover commenting ;-) :). And that song's so true..

>> Gaya >>

I agree with the smoking part, even if God forbid, I get a kind of lung/mouth cancer, I'd never regret not smoking. But eating is one of the simpler pleasures of life for me. I enjoy eating different type of foods (all vegetarian but still there are so many types!!) as much as I love adventures. I don't want to eat salads my whole life just to avoid a couple of diseases and later realize that I had sacrificed my love for food for nothing. And I told you bhel puri and ice cream was childish. It was just the representation of all the food I love ;-). And I did say I eat moderately. And I exercize. But I just can't totally survive on leaves ;-).

I do agree about the "My work's not done" part. I am very happy right now. If you ask me whether I'd be happy if death comes to me today, yes I'd be. But I'd have regrets about not having enough time with my loved ones. Ideal age for me (only for myself) to die would be around 50-60. I wouldn't want to be around after that :).

>> Soum >>

Glad that you had time to comment on my blog from Boston. Yeah thats a very famous quote, but its so oft-repeated that I didn't want to put it in the post :).

As for blog-rolling Vandu, hey patience yaar, I'm doing it, I'm doing it now!! :)


Sriram retorted...

If Stephen Hawking and Einstein are to be believed, time can be stretched (and even stopped !!! ) -
Hope some day, some one some where will translate it to reality and lets 'live' to see that day when 'chaos' takes over !!