Living Longer

January 28, 2009

We could live much longer if we really wanted to. Or maybe we want to but can’t get our act together, individually or collectively, to take the steps that forestall death.

I’ve been pondering longevity since coming across two items recently: a study that shows reducing smog adds an average of five months to lifespans and a blog entry and photo about a typical diet in Japan, where people live an average of four years longer than in the United States.

Think of the possibilities with even more rigorous air pollution controls and a radical change in U.S. food consumption habits. Of course I know things I could do to improve my chances of living longer but am slow to do them or fall short. Like many others, I also know or love people who curtailed their lives by smoking, taking on too much stress, eating too much, and so on.

Because life comes with no guarantees and living in the moment feels so right and taking care of oneself is damn hard work, signing up for the possibility of a few or more years might seen like an unfair tradeoff.

At least until death lurks close, and “I should have taken better care of myself” stands atop the towering heap of regrets.