27 September 2014
In the idling hours after breakfast, sliding inexorably toward lunch, when there is not much to do in this preplanned, regimented life, designed by and for others, I found myself going through various news items on the Internet. In that way that only hyperlinking on an infinitely large database as the web can provide, I came across this article on ageing from the BBC: http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20140520-the-girls-who-never-age
As I read the article a notion echoed in the recesses of my mind, how some people struggle so heroically against aging. With its concordant issues of aches and pains, bodily and organ dysfunctions, mental processes decaying to the point that the actions one has come to command and control as activities they have used to navigate living in this body for the sake of experiencing things in the physical world. I, myself, have enjoyed many of those same things, but the choice of experiences I wanted to sample were often quite different from what many of those surrounding me bought into.
High school was not the apogee of my academic life, in fact it was mostly a survival occurrence designed to challenge others but often seemed to greatly and successfully underwhelm me. I enjoyed competitive swimming through a lot of my life. Yet I often felt like a voyeur as I was never buying into the competition aspect, I never got enjoyment in comparing my feats to others, I had difficulty understanding the apparent ego based way my peers did this. I could see no value to this type of cross unit equivalence. I was often destructive to the self and others. People often assigned value of a dubious sort that was often destructive to this kind of ranking. The joys of being in water were more experiential and not well understood by others. The way I could be weightless in water, the comparative tremendous viscosity advantage that water had over air, the feeling of water buoying and offering a resistance against which I could propel myself. Somehow these features were never seen by those for whom one's most recent exposure to water is measured by a stopwatch.
I lived for the joy of skiing. I began as a small child. Taken to ski by my parents at an early age, I was smitten at an early age an could never again look away. The act of sliding effortlessly across snow was so unique and previously unknown. Snow, that necessary ingredient for skiing, begin to claim to be an important element in my young mind. Beyond snowballs and snow shoveling as hallmarks of a winter life to be looked at with reactive awareness or dread, when not playing with skis in the back yard, a snow filled day had a certain smell attributed to it. The faint odor of wet gloves and clothing having been snow covered and subsequently moistened, maybe almost wet, had an odor unlike anything else. The memories associated with this aroma were often my favorites. Similarly a snow covered dog that soon becomes damp from snowmelt brings forth similar delightful mental images.
Looking at these memories, I can see what has always intrigued me, I can more fully understand what often drew me onward toward the major elements which I chose to undertake throughout my life. My academic and work related activities all were predicated on learning how and then enjoying the bright faced experience of discovery by others. The glow of self recognition that illuminates another's face as the awareness becomes clear to them. Then the growing glow of understanding that this knowledge is their's and their;s alone, that they will be able to summons this at any future time without any support from others is an image that is unique in the world.
As these thoughts and ideas played through my mind while reading of the quest by others to prolong life, it occurred to me that the object of life was not the length of living, but to what degree one was satisfied with the experience no matter the length. It may seem selfish to read of my inner experiences, but I have also noticed that when I am experiencing this joy in others, they are getting something from me as well. A sort of energetic boost, an unseen, but well felt encouragement that they are indeed doing something of value. That glow from others showed that in spite of arguments to the contrary, this was the correct path to have taken.