Posted on August 7, 2012 by Colin

Cost of Entry

There are some tree species that can live for thousands of years.

Humans on the other hand generally have less than 100 years to play with. Maybe a little more, if you’re among a fortunate few standouts. Hopefully we’ll be able to muster more than that soon, but the average amount of time my generation will live is far from certain at this point.

It’s interesting that if you look at the plants and animals with the greatest longevity, you’ll also find those with the slowest, most plodding lifestyles. Trees don’t really get out much, and tortoises, jellyfish, and geoducks spend their ample years leisurely sliding, floating, or sitting the time away.

Would you be willing to give up your perception of self and the world — the things that make you human — in order to live longer? To be more like the towering pine tree or noble geoduck?

I think most people would say no, and yet many act as if they would, trading in their forward-movement for comfort, preferring cheerful ignorance over a sometimes-unfulfilling pursuit knowledge. It’s important to remember that tortoises may live a long time, but what they accomplish in that time period is pathetically little. Though we may turn them into wise old creatures in folktales, all they ever think about in real life is food and reproducing and food.

By virtue of being human, you’ve already paid — in years off your life — for access to consciousness and capability; such is our genetic cross to bear and advantage. What you do with those gifts is your own choice, of course, but it seems terribly wasteful to pay the cost of entry and never walk through the door.