"What?" he replies.
"I'm going to come back from the dead."
"Aaahhhh. And what makes you think you can do that?"
Her answer is as simple as it is profound, "Because I'm rich."
I thought of that scene Easter Sunday when I read a front page article in the Washington Post entitled "Tech Titans' Latest Project: Defy Death." Why it was on the front page on Easter Sunday is anyone's guess. Resurrection envy?
The still relatively young men--and it's all men--who have made gazillions of dollars out in Silicon Valley apparently refuse to allow death to cheat them out of enjoying those gazillions and are giving money hand over fist to assorted scientific and medical researchers who believe there is a way to extend their lives almost infinitely.
Emphasis on "their lives." Oh, you and I get to join the everlasting party if we, like the tech boys and Edwina, can answer, "And what makes you think you can do that?" with, "Because I'm rich." None of the treatments will be covered by Medicare.
And there's certainly something attractive to the notion of living for 150, 250, 500 years--as long as we still had the bodies of--what?--thirty- or even fifty-year-olds. Attractive at least on the surface. But as scholar and bioethicist Leon Kass argued in his essay "Ageless Bodies, Happy Souls,"immortality in this life or even the artificial prolongation of this life has more than a few downsides.
Kass writes, referring to another essay he wrote:
...living with our finitude is the condition of many of the best things in human life: engagement, seriousness, a taste for beauty, the possibility of virtue, the ties born of procreation, the quest for meaning. ...the pursuit of perfect bodies and further life-extension will deflect us from realizing more fully the aspirations to which our lives naturally point, from living well rather than merely staying alive. ...a concern with one’s own improving agelessness is finally incompatible with accepting the need for procreation and human renewal: a world of longevity is increasingly a world hostile to children. Moreover, far from bringing contentment, it is arguably a world increasingly dominated by anxiety over health and the fear of death.
A good life after mid-life, as I say in my book, is not about cheating old age, but about making the most of every state of our lives including the days when we're forced to slow down and slow down and slow down.