Readers of this blog know that I believe Telomerase Activation with TA-65 has made me younger, is safe, and works for others.
When people whom I haven’t seen for a while remark, “You look great! And got skinny! What are you taking?” I cringe a little because I know that semi-rhetorical question will elicit the following eerie deja-vu.
I reply: “Actually, I’ve been taking this new anti-aging pill.”
Them: (A chortle erupts as they literally laugh in my face.)
After reading my response was in ernest, they reply:
“No, seriously. Have you been working out and dieting?”
Me: “No, there’s this nutraceutical that extends the telomeres…(blah, blah, blah)”
Their eyes glaze over as they suppress a strong urge to laugh out loud again and wonder whether they should find a way to quickly escape from someone who has clearly lost his grip on reality.
But as I string words, sentences, and ideas together, my voice morphs back from the grown ups’ garbling of some Charlie Brown holiday cartoon (wah,wahh, wo, wah, wah…) back into English.
Me: “(Wah-wah-wah) protect the chromosomes (wah,wahh, wo, wah, wah) shorten as you age (wah,wahh, wo, wah, wah.) By lengthening your telomeres, you grow younger.”
By now, they have usually concluded that A) I’m serious and believe in what I’m saying, B) I appear to have a logical and coherent story, & C) it’s worth asking a few questions.
Them: “Wow. How come I haven’t heard about it?”
Me: We’re trying to get the word out but only about 1000 people, many of whom are borderline reclusive MD’s, PhD’s or CEO’s, have taken it.
Them: “How much is it?” or “Where do I get it?”
Me: “It’s $4,000 for six months. And I’m one of the five doctors who can sell it.”
Them: “What? Why so expensive?”
Me: “It is very difficult to extract because it is insoluble in water or lipids. It takes three tons of root to make one batch.”
Them: “I’ll wait for the price to come down. Anyway, is it safe and FDA approved?”
Me: “Its a nutraceutical, like Vitamin C extracted from Rose hips, so it’s not regulated by the FDA. And so far, of the hundreds that have taken it, there have been no new cancers or adverse effects. Of course, before I took it, I scoured all the safety testing regarding carcinogenesis, toxicity, and human trials.
Them: “I don’t want to live longer. What’s the point?”
Now, I explain our goal is to have a better quality of life by becoming younger and then resuming your normal biological aging after stopping, like running a bit farther up a relentlessly descending escalator that you’re riding from the cradle above to the grave below.
Them: “Sounds too good to be true. Anyway, I just want go when it’s my time.”
And that is how it unfolds. Every single time, without fail, like Bill Murray forced to relive the same experiences over and over in Groundhog Day.
I used to wonder why 9 our of 10 rational people will so glibly profess a death wish as the final punctuation to this conversation. I thought it was because the fantasy was too threatening and anyway, they know the cosmos won’t hold them to thier proclamation any time soon. But I just stumbled upon the writings of a life extension advocate and cryonics guru named Ben Best, that might help explain the “logic of emotion” behind my dozens of identical, deja-vu encounters.
“Suicide counseling is primarily for people who are undecided about the value of life. The suicide counselor can attempt to remind or inform the despairing person of the potential pleasures of life — or attempt to suggest ways to end pain and depression. But a person lacking the will to live usually has no motivation to find a reason to live. The suicide counselor is helpless to change a person who innately experiences life as being something negative — helpless to find goals & values that would be meaningful. Many (if not most) people will eagerly choose death as a means to stop physical or emotional pain if the pain is intense enough and if the prospect of the pain ending seems bleak.
To me, discussing the value of life extension with people uninterested in extending their own lives is a great deal like suicide counseling. I see no easy way of translating my positive attitudes about life into other people having a positive attitude about life. I have come to believe that if a person does not value life, or believes that the value of life has an expiry date, the matter is beyond discussion. And I mean this not in the sense of difficulty of communication, but in the sense that what is of value to me may not be of value for someone else. I like strawberry and she likes vanilla. I want to live to be a thousand years old — and he doesn’t care whether he is alive in five years. Personal choices.
(he goes on to explain all the things he would do with a longer lifespan)
But telling people what I would do with my extended life will not satisfy those who don’t know what to do with themselves. Enthusiasm for living is the driving force behind the desire to live. To someone who equates extended life with extended boredom, a list of possible activities will only seem like a list of chores.
If people ask me why I want to live forever, I ask why they want to die. This is not a trick answer — my bafflement is as genuine as theirs. I can only speculate that most people live lives that are woefully boring, depressive or painful — and they are locked in despair that things will ever change. Many people complete the goals of social programming (education, marriage, family, career and retirement) — and then feel that there is nothing left to do but die. Why so little imagination and enthusiasm? I cannot understand why people are so content to age & die when science is making strides towards the prevention of these things and there is such a limitless supply of exciting things to explore & experience. Yet people ask me why — in a few decades — I cannot find fulfillment and satisfaction that I have lived. Why should I want a good thing to end? There is an incomprehensible gulf of different attitudes.
Too many people cannot believe in the potential for rejuvenation and perpetual youth. An elderly relative of mine who had been a dirt farmer all his life spent his final years on his porch playing a record “When you and I were young, Maggie” — bringing tears to his eyes. As a hard-working youth he and his young wife were described as the happiest of couples. Narrowing opportunities accompanying a deteriorating body & mind — with no hope for improvement — have a destructive effect on enthusiasm for life.
The energy of youth is often spent struggling to establish oneself in the world, with too little time to smell the flowers. Youth presents us with many opportunities which we fumble due to lack of wisdom — opportunities which seem lost forever when wisdom arrives. I have regrets for things I have done, but far greater regrets for things I have not done. All my mistakes were really terrific “learning experiences” Everything would be OK were it not for aging and death. I love my life and my life history — “warts and all”. Without aging and death all my mistakes would merely be the path to wisdom and fulfillment. Aging and death mean the futile loss of my life’s lessons, experiences and opportunity. I will do all in my power to prevent this tragedy. With rejuvenation we need not spend years mourning the loss of youth. A lifespan of even one hundred years is far too brief an experience of life. I want to live many thousands of years, at least — as long as possible.”
(My Disclaimer: I do NOT advocate cryonics, for a lot of reasons that I ‘flesh out’ in my new sci-fi graphic novel, Maximum Lifespan, about a scientist who freezes his body and downloads his consciousness into a computer and then into his unsuspecting son.)
But Best’s insights truly shed new light on my Groundhog Day conversations. Historically, spirituality has always made good commerce in the transmigration of souls, whether it be the maudlin reawakening at the deathbed, or its ‘chicken-little’ proclamations that we’re ‘living in the end of days.’ Eschatology of individuals and their memes must emerge from their core values of the futility of earthly living and a sort of spiritual thermodynamics, not from a perspective of hope and abundance, which are relegated to the theism of an Afterlife and the magic beans of fairy tales.
Best’s words made me realize that biomedicine of our culture, the medicine that I’ve practiced for the last 21 years, is like a crack Roman legion engaged in frontier skirmishes even as Rome burns. I realized that Allopathic medicine and all our important cultural institutions have addressed immortality long ago and safely proclaimed all worlds of life extension to be flat and, ipso facto, frivolous to consider. I presume the logic goes something like this:
If G-d (or Gaia, or whatever trickster entity that controls us) had wanted us to eat from Eden’s other tree, the Tree of Eternal Life, he would have given us something like this supposed telomerase activator. But since this Ed Park guy isn’t famous and I’ve never heard about this, this couldn’t possibly be legit. Who cares if someone won a Nobel Prize for it? Unless Oprah, Oz, and Perez Hilton are talking, it can’t be that important.
Fast forward to the next time someone smugly proclaims, “Sounds too good to be true. Anyway, I just want go when it’s my time,” I’ll smile knowing full well that their ‘faith in futility’ is really talking but that most wouldn’t find it hard to choose between antidote and alter water if they’d just been poisoned.
Dear reader, we’ve all been poisoned with the knowledge of our own mortality and we are all afflicted with the only undeniable risk factor for causing death: being alive.
We close with the words of the Apollo and Dionysus of the aging Boomers:
At midnight all the agents
And the superhuman crew
Come out and round up everyone
That knows more than they do
Then they bring them to the factory
Where the heart-attack machine
Is strapped across their shoulders
And then the kerosene
Is brought down from the castles
By insurance men who go
Check to see that nobody is escaping
To Desolation Row.
Five to one, baby
One in five
No one here gets out alive.