As civilization moves forward in its ever-hurried pursuit of technological advancement it is important to remember that there are other sides of human existence which matter, and should not be allowed to wither. When looking at the number of years most of us will spend on the planet, they add up to quite a lot, especially compared to how long our ancestors were expected to live.
However, upon close inspection, we can notice that around forty years is what we have in terms of maximum vitality, fifty or sixty if we are among the exceptions. By that time, however, most will have already had a career, children, or will have left their mark in society one way or the other. They might start to feel futile. Unless we number among the lucky few who are still very much healthy and active into their nineties, after 40, our bodies begin to slowly decline in strength, energy, and capabilities. The autumn of life brings with it changes and necessary adaptations, but it can be a good and peaceful period.
Unfortunately, even nowadays advanced society does not always do much in terms of helping one age well. Indeed, even if most of the Western population has good ideas about how they want to spend their old age, there is a feeling of having an expiration date, when the children no longer need one, when society has finished using their work capabilities when they feel they are now waiting for….winter. Others are too sick to notice life slipping away.
So, for those of us lucky, or unlucky, enough to live to an old age by today’s standards, there will be hardship, as we will spend a long time of our lives, sometimes half of it, watching our bodies and minds decay in tune with the amount of isolation we have forced upon us. We live in a society where living a long life has become such a priority that we would go to great lengths to keep the vegetative alive for as long as possible, not really stopping to think if this is helping them or simply trapping them in a cage of sorrow and suffering. We have become so busy with the amount of time we live that we have forgotten to invest in a just as important endeavor, that of making the life lived a better, happier, healthier.
It is wonderful that we are making such amazing progress in science. It is wonderful that we are beginning to take notice of those countries which have not just a great lifespan among their citizens but also a high quality of life. It is truly a wonderful century of discovery and perpetual curiosity in which we live. Now, Europe and any region wanting a healthy and happy population, must start making more strives to bring the quality of life to a higher standard. I am not referring to material comfort, but to health, existential motivation, spiritual support, nutrition, exercise and every other aspect of what makes life a wonderful experience. If we are truly to live lives that are whole, we cannot ignore that even if we live long, unless we live well, we might not be living at all.