As someone who doesn’t believe in heaven or hell or an afterlife of any kind, coming to grips with death is hard. Atheism is frightening and tremendously depressing.
One of the most overused quotes on the subject is “the only thing certain in life is death.” While that may be true, it feels like, in this day and age, we might be just one scientific discovery away from a dramatic, life-extending treatment. Today, there is an element of uncertainty in the matter.
I feel like my generation could be the last group to live less than 100 years. What if, when we’re in our eighties there’s some incredible invention that, when implemented early enough, can reverse most of the aging process and allow humans to continue living healthfully well into their hundreds. It doesn’t seem impossible. In fact, it seems entirely too possible and the fact that I could miss that by a matter of years is soul crushing.
In the grand scheme of the universe, the difference between dying at 24 and 84 is insignificant, but in the span of our lifetimes, it’s monumental.
Death at 24 means not experiencing those life-defining moments that make us human. It can mean missing out on the chance to pass down your genes. You might lose the opportunity to create life. And maybe in some cases that’s a good thing – survival of the fittest, after all – but it doesn’t feel like a good thing. It feels unfair.
I guess for now though, I’ll appreciate aging. I’ll respect the wrinkles that slowly develop across my skin and recognize that growing old is a privilege. Aging is a luxury that not everyone will get to experience.