On Friday, I completed my regular submission to the Friday Fictioneers project. A little story about a market trader selling longevity amulets. You can go and read it here if you would like. It turns out that the main character has been alive for a century or more, since the time of King Arthur. I enjoyed writing the story, and as always loved the comments and interaction that come from this group. But there was a theme to the story I saw in my head that the commenters so far do not (which may reflect on my story-telling ability.)
The fact is that the situation I put my character in is not that great. Sure, she’s been alive a long time. But she is still scraping a hand to mouth existence, out of touch with the modern world and pretty miserable. I don’t know about you, but I really wouldn’t want longevity on those terms. So, over the weekend I’ve been reflecting on the length and quality of life.
I’ve been wondering why we fear death, and what makes us want to stay in this world. At the moment, I would say I have no fear of death itself. Some cannot bear the thought of not existing, but for my own reasons I feel completely certain that the important parts of me will survive. I think of death as going home. If I were told I was dying, though, I would fight to stay here. Why? For my family – my boys are still young and I would want to remain here for them and my husbanc if I could. I am fairly sure, though, that this will not always be the case, A time will come when I am ready to move on, and if illness or accident takes me before then, so be it.
All this reflection also relates to the eating plan I am following – the 5:2 diet which was reported on in the Horizon programme Eat, Fast and Live Longer, where Michael Mosely also expressed that his aim was not just long life but the health to enjoy it. By our actions, we can make a difference to our health. When looking into cancer for my book, I have often wondered at this. If I were diagnosed with cancer, I would immediately change my diet. So if that diet would be healthier, why am I not following it now? This 5:2 eating plan is one way to address thie conundrum. Something that should benefit my health without seeming impossible to follow long term.
Here are the things I have thought of that I can do to positively affect my desire to live long into the future:
- Take action to safeguard and improve my health as I age (like the eating plan)
- Maintain a sense of purpose and a drive to be of use to others
- Keep up to date with the world as it changes, making the effort to understand new technology and ways of connecting with others
Because none of this will prevent me dying one day, I also consider it important to develop my spiritual side so that I am stronger to face the next step whenever it happens.
Because I am a Queen fan (dating myself, I expect) I will leave you with Mr Freddie Mercury, facing his own demise in song.