The secret to a long life is knowing when it’s time to go

graveyard overlooking Sydney Harbour
The Waverley Cemetary, Sydney, Australia

But when?

When would you go if you had the choice?

I put the question to the students in my feminism and death course this week and I was surprised at their answers.

I gave them the scenario sketched out here, How Long Would You Live if You Could Choose ANY Number of Years? Here’s how it works, roughly: You get ten minutes to choose a number and that’s the number of years you live. You can choose infinity but once you do, that’s it.

I was struck that all the students chose natural life span or 100 or 120 years. I picked 1000. (Or 500 to 1000.) Best of all would be infinity with choice but the options in the Wait but Why scenario (linked above) don’t include that. The difference in perspectives was interesting. They were shocked at my long list of things I’d do if I had time..second and third PhDs, for example. New sports I’d learn. Dancing! All the dancing. And languages. And visit all the places. From their point of view, just starting their adult lives, the decades look long. They see the years stretching out ahead and imagine themselves tired and satisfied with all they’ve done by 80.

I tried it again on Facebook with the same results. Young friends chose natural life span. Friends my age went for the really big numbers, mostly.

I know that exercise won’t make me live forever. See Fighting aging? Why the battle language? Why not aging well? But I do hope to live for as long as I can.

How about you? If you had a magic wand what number would you choose?

You can follow my death page on Facebook.

My Facebook friends and my students also generated a death themed playlist on Spotify.

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