Daniel is a good friend of mine, a talented stage actor and a French former colleague in Capgemini. Recently he sent me a long e-mail, part of which contains a reflection on LIFE-EXPECTANCY that he has permitted me to reprint here. I think you’ll appreciate it as much as I do. (I trust he will pardon my poor translation.)
“At the beginning of January you included in your Blog a post on “Life-Expectancy”, reflections on death in general and on your own in particular. It touched me, for I too think often about it but can’t speak about it : family and friends can’t stand this sort of musing – as though not speaking about it could make the problem disappear ! As far as I’m concerned, I think of this “due date” without any particular fear, just a feeling that this inevitable thing gives me the shits (verbatim); I guess I’ve just become used to living. I expect nothing after death, no Jesus, no Heaven, no Resurrection – just the return of my atoms to nature. And the closer it gets, the less I feel attracted by the precautionary wager of Pascal. Resigned, I just wait to kick the bucket.
Without believing in magic I tend to think that one can influence the hour of his/her death according to the way we condition our mind. I remember telling myself at 50, on a particularly pessimistic day, that I would never live beyond 60 – and here I am over 70 (which invalidates, it would seem, the above assertion). Recently I had a change of heart (in French : “I changed my rifle from one shoulder to the other”), though I have no intention of using my gun against myself (LOL). So I tell myself that I have decided to live at least till 90, hoping that my mind and body take the necessary dispositions to reach that objective.
But we lack ambition, don’t we ? Why not aim at triple digits ?
In your post you mention that incredible little Frenchman still competing in bicycle races against the clock at age 105. Journalists yesterday on TV reported that doctors tell us that his body is perfectly irrigated in spite of his age. We too have well-irrigated bodies – but perhaps not with the same substances.
Our defensive weapon against Death is Black Humor. For example, I know I’m overweight and I’m a bit bored of constantly paying attention to what I eat and drink. So I often say to myself, with a smile : “Anyhow, I’ll get there one of these days – that’s for sure !”
An amusing statistic, no doubt, from the PRB, the Population Reference Bureau : it seems that since the beginning of prehistory, 108 billion people have died, compared with today’s living population of 7 or 7.5 billion. So I tell myself that this is perhaps the reason that the Universe is expanding. Supposing that the Paradise of Catholics exists, to welcome and lodge so many people believed to enter eternal life, it would have to be getting bigger all the time ! (LOL).”