Add years to your life? Is it worth it?

Several months ago, a radio pastor told of a man who arrived in heaven and said: “How wonderful this is. If only I hadn’t been such a health and fitness freak, I could have gotten here much sooner.”

I am part of the baby-boom generation. This means I was born sometime between 1946 and 1964. Yeah, I know — keep guessing. It also means that I undoubtedly have more past than future here on Earth.

I became an adult “orphan” in 1993, the year Dad passed. Mom had preceded him by a year and a half. My parents didn’t want heroic life-saving measures. Neither do I. I don’t intend to live one day — or even one hour — beyond what God has given me here. I only pray that I will be at my own home in my last hours and then make a swift transition, of natural causes, from here to hereafter — without lingering or regret.

Length of Life? Or Quality of Life?

People live longer now than people did 100 years ago. But how much real quality of life is there in these added years? If prolonging life means propping up someone on high-tech life-support machines, especially if the patient doesn’t want this, aren’t we just postponing the inevitable and burdening the patient still more? What purpose does it serve — other than fattening the wallets of high-tech specialists and hospital administrators?

Prolonging Youth?

Ever since I was 21, people have told me I look young for my age. Yet I don’t take any heroic steps to try to stay young. I don’t jog. I don’t count calories. True, I work out regularly and take walks, but I was doing these things well before the big health and fitness craze began.

Still, longevity isn’t my goal. What I believe makes the real difference in staying young is avoiding the very things that our parents and teachers and mentors should teach us early in life to avoid: alcohol, nicotine, caffeine, street drugs, overeating, reckless driving, night life, promiscuity.

Dad’s List

About a month before he passed, Dad started making a list of things about this earthly life that he wasn’t going to miss. Until now, I hadn’t tried writing a similar list of my own. Besides cold weather and high winter utility costs — and who doesn’t loathe these? — here are some of my top pet peeves:

  • The unholy trinity — mainstream media, academia, Hollywood
  • Modern-day liberalism and statism
  • Graduated taxation
  • Socialized medicine
  • Gun control propaganda
  • Environmental overregulation

Still Upbeat

I thank God many times for the things of this life that I hold dear — faith, family, meaningful friendships, useful activity, music, art, natural beauty. But I have to remember that they’re just little hints of what’s to come. I don’t believe this earthly life is the real deal. I draw encouragement from St. Paul’s words in 2. Corinthians 5:1 — this is from Weymouth’s New Testament in Modern Speech:

For we know that if this poor tent, our earthly house, is taken down, we have in Heaven a building which God has provided, a house not built by human hands, but eternal.

The upbeat side of me predominates. I will do what I can, while I’m still here, to make a positive difference. It is God who gives me the strength I need for this. I can’t do it in my own strength. With Paul’s words in mind, I am confident that, when my time here is over, I will be ready to journey on to a better place and a better life than Earth can offer.

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