How to Lengthen your Life.

Discussion in 'Philosophy' started by Mindful, Apr 22, 2018.

  1. Mindful
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    Mindful Platinum Member

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    The normal way we set about trying to extend our lives is by striving to add more years to them – usually by eating more couscous and broccoli, going to bed early and running in the rain. But this approach may turn out to be quixotic, not only because Death can’t reliably be warded off with kale, but at a deeper level, because the best way to lengthen a life is not by attempting to stick more years on to its tail.

    One of the most basic facts about time is that, even though we insist on measuring it as if it were an objective unit, it doesn’t, in all conditions, feel as if it were moving at the same pace. Five minutes can feel like an hour; ten hours can feel like five minutes. A decade may pass like two years; two years may acquire the weight of half a century. And so on.


    How to lengthen your Life - The Book of Life
     
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  2. Mindful
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    Mindful Platinum Member

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    ^ The difference in pace is not mysterious: it has to do with novelty. The more our days are filled with new, unpredictable and challenging experiences, the longer they will feel. And, conversely, the more one day is exactly like another, the faster it will pass by in an evanescent blur. Childhood ends up feeling so long because it is the cauldron of novelty; because its most ordinary days are packed with extraordinary discoveries and sensations: these can be as apparently minor yet as significant as the first time we explore the zip on a cardigan or hold our nose under water, the first time we look at the sun through the cotton of a beach towel or dig our fingers into the putty holding a window in its frame. Dense as it is with stimuli, the first decade might as well be a thousand years long.
     
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  3. Moonglow
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    gazpacho...or nothing...
     
  4. Mindful
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    ^ We don’t need to make art in order to learn the most valuable lesson of artists, which is about noticing properly, living with our eyes open – and thereby, along the way, savouring time. Without any intention to create something that could be put in a gallery, we could – as part of a goal of living more deliberately – take a walk in an unfamiliar part of town, ask an old friend about a side of their life we’d never dared to probe at, lie on our back in the garden and look up at the stars or hold our partner in a way we never tried before. It takes a rabid lack of imagination to think we have to go to Machu Picchu to find something new.

    In Fyodor Dostoevsky’s novel The Idiot, a prisoner has suddenly been condemned to death and been told he has only a few minutes left to live. ‘What if I were not to die!,’ he exclaims. ‘What if life were given back to me – what infinity!… I’d turn a whole minute into an age…’ Faced with losing his life, the poor wretch recognises that every minute could be turned into aeons of time, with sufficient imagination and appreciation.

    It is sensible enough to try to live longer lives. But we are working with a false notion of what long really means. We might live to be a thousand years old and still complain that it had all rushed by too fast. We should be aiming to lead lives that feel long because we have managed to imbue them with the right sort of open-hearted appreciation and unsnobbish receptivity, the kind that five year olds know naturally how to bring to bear. We need to pause and look at one another’s faces, study the evening sky, wonder at the eddies and colours of the river and dare to ask the kind of questions that open our souls. We don’t need to add years; we need to densify the time we have left by ensuring that every day is lived consciously – and we can do this via a manoeuvre as simple as it is momentous: by starting to notice all that we have as yet only seen.
     
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    In Heller's anti war novel Catch-22 the character Dunbar devoted his time to the most boring pursuits he could imagine as every second was then an eternity and he could make his life as long as possible.
     
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  6. Mindful
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    Get married. It will actually shorten your life but it will seem agonizingly long.
     
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    I've tried that.

    But the worst is, not your dying, but the ones around you that you love.
     
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    AND WHAT is my life span?
    I'm like a man gone out of Egypt
    the Red Sea parts, I cross on dry land,
    two walls of water; on my right and on my left
    Pharaoh's army and his horsemen behind me.
    Before me the desert,
    perhaps the Promised Land too.
    That is my life span.
     
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    And it was all rainbows and unicorns for us when we got to the Promised Land.
     

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