Self-preservation is an instinct; it’s natural to want to live as long as possible. Martin Luther King Jr, said “Of course I want to live a long life – longevity has its place”. But, when is long too long? 

Is it too long when almost all of our friends have died and there’s no one left to have a meaningful conversation with? Is it too long when we can no longer live alone, we’re mistreated by staff at the senior center and family rarely visits us? Is it too long when our health is failing and the treatments are actually worse than the afflictions themselves? At this point are we really living or just existing?

Scientific studies have helped to reveal more of what can contribute to living longer and, certainly, we welcome these studies. However, can we outlive our innate desire to serve some kind of purpose as dementia and other issues make an appearance?

I believe that balance is the key. Certainly, we should analyze and interpret as best we can the new studies to determine their applicability to our lives. But, we should also not be afraid to live our lives to the fullest today even if it means that enjoying a good hot dog will subtract six minutes from my life – according to recent studies.