Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Scientists Score Breakthrough in Reversing Aging Process

There has been what I think is an excessive focus on the quantity of our years of life in this world, and it seems to have come at the expense of focusing on the quality of our lives while on this Earth.

Yet, as the saying goes, we really only do have one life to live, and probably should not waste it on pursuing the impossible dream of immortality.

As Stephen King wrote in The Green Mile, we all owe a death, there are no exceptions.

That said, it would be nice sometimes if time did not race ever faster the older you get. If you could feel a little less rushed, and not be swept away by the urgent tide of time relentlessly carrying you away from youth and closer to the unpleasant realities of old aches and eventual death. To many of us associate old age with aches and pains and ugliness and loneliness, even though it certainly does not have to be that way.

Life expectancy has been going up and up for many decades now. This is a result of sounder medical practices, better diets, healthier habits by individuals, fewer wars, better education, and perhaps some other factors not immediately coming to mind while writing this.

Still, there has been an increased focus on trying to expand the number of years that we live. Increasingly, I have heard numerous people - including people in the medical profession who really ought to know better - say that the "symptoms" of old age are not natural, and we do not necessarily have to give in to them. More and more, I have heard people talk about the aging process as somehow unnatural, and that this indeed could and should be slowed down by any means possible at the very least, if not outright reversed. Some people even take it a step further and suggest that human beings could (and possibly should) achieve immortality itself.

Now, don't get me wrong: I would be all for something that at least slows down the detrimental parts of the aging process. Time goes by so fast, and I recently heard on the radio that we tend to feel 20% younger than we actually are. So a 40-year-old like me should feel 32, which sounds about right. Although that said, sometimes I feel younger than that, even. There are moments that I remember from literally decades ago that seem somehow still within reach, almost. I think back to some moments in time, such as the trip to France in 1998 that I was often writing about in the last month or so, and it feels a lot more recent than the calendar suggests it was. Of course, then there are times when I feel every minute of my age, such as when aches and pains that were always a foreigner years ago have become commonplace.

Be that as it may, despite the physical limitations and overall slowing down as the years progress, I can  now more fully appreciate and understand what adults were trying to tell me all of those years ago, when I was the child. They told me to enjoy my youth, to appreciate what I had while I still have it. They were talking about that easy happiness that belongs to youth. Being in the peak of my health at that young age (for which I feel blessed, because not all kids have that, either), being able to sleep effortlessly (even after resisting), having a ton of energy, and generally being capable of experiencing real happiness fairly easily (such moments become both rarer and more prized the older you get).

Still, there is a market for anti-aging and, yes, immortality. With all of the emphasis on living longer (although less emphasis, I notice, on truly living better), it was likely inevitable that this would happen. And every time that there is an apparent breakthrough, it makes significant waves, although it feels like people are still waiting for the big one: achieving immortality for human beings.

Maybe I am just ranting and raving about something that others do not feel is a big deal. But the emphasis always seems to me to be wrongly placed. People are exercising and watching their health, but it seems to me that they do so for superficial reasons: basically, to look good. Even as they engage in increased physical exercise, there seems to be an excess focus on specific procedures and an emphasis on numbers, calculating how many steps you have taken, how many miles you have run, how many calories you taken in, and how many you have (or need to be) burned off. Maybe this increased emphasis on science to achieve what people at least assume to be a healthier lifestyle is good, or maybe it is excessive. That is likely a matter of opinion, although I am of the opinion that it has been manipulated to become overly shallow.

In any case, I would personally welcome some kind of method or something that at least slows down the aging process. Right now, as I write this, my back is aching, and my head was aching earlier, as well. I do not feel particularly old, although certainly, my energy levels have gone down noticeably now over the years. Should such things as slowing down aging become available to me someday, I very well might take it.

But then again, I might not. This might sound paradoxical, and perhaps it is. However, I just do not feel that this emphasis on living longer, on wanting to live forever, and at least until 100 and well beyond, is indeed as natural as many seem to think. To me, it sounds narcissistic and against everything that we have learned about how the world works. In fact, it may even be irresponsible, given the overpopulation crisis that we are facing. Quite frankly, I do not necessarily want to be around in 100 years to see what happens in the world, how it changes.

That said, I understand that this is just my opinion, and people are still fascinated with this idea of living much longer, possibly even forever. So be it. Here are a couple of articles about an apparent breakthrough in this regard, as scientists have managed to kind of manipulate regeneration of cells in worms, and they hope that this helps them figure out how to do this in the future with human beings.

Here are the links to the articles:

Immortality is one step closer as scientists turn off the ageing process in worms Those lucky worms. DAVID NIELD, 28 JUL 2015:

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