Is Immortality Really All That Great?

Gabby Williams’ small frame and fresh skin are deceptive. Looking at her, you might never guess you are looking at an 8-year-old and not a young baby. You might recognize her from her TV special on TLC this week. Gabby has a mysterious condition shared by only a handful of others in the world that slows her rate of aging.

Now, of course Gabby Williams is not exactly a fountain of youth. She is an 8-year-old who is as developed as a newborn baby. When you think “fountain of youth”, you think of an elixir that will trap you in a babe’s (think Kate Upton’s) body for an eternity, not a baby’s body. But maybe, just maybe, Gabby’s genes can give us some insight into how and why we age the way we do. Ideally, we could learn how to help those suffering from conditions like Alzheimer’s and dementia by studying why her body ages this way.

I am no genius; in fact, I can never remember if the I or the U comes first in “genius”, but I did spend three years as a data entry temp in a Genetic Medicine office and my roommate is heading to Cambridge in the fall to study DNA so I know (almost nothing) about genes. But let’s say science worked this way and there was a little pill you could take with dinner that would locate and eliminate the gene that makes us age. What if we could plausibly live forever?

Ignoring the fact that obviously pharmaceutical companies would make it absurdly expensive to drink from the fountain of youth, organized crime would flourish from selling it in back alleys, and our parents would encourage us not to do the drug, let’s say we took it. Let’s say we woke up tomorrow knowing there was no end in sight…

There are definite upsides to living forever. No longer bound by the restrictions of mortality, we can finally stop whining about not having enough time and just do stuff. Maybe we’ll spend a handful of years accumulating money and we buy ourselves a large home in a European countryside. We will decorate it exactly like a Pottery Barn catalog. Finally, we will read all of the books that are sitting on our desk collecting coffee ring stains and dust. We will binge watch Breaking Bad and not feel guilty. We will finally watch Lost and we will master nail art. We’ll cook every gluten free recipe we have pinned to our Pinterest boards and we’ll redesign our living room while dinner is in the oven. We’ll be brave enough to finally try out bangs and we will hate them but we will forget and try them out again in three years. We’ll learn languages and make things like cookies, greeting cards, friends, love. We will travel through a city searching for the best milkshake. We will pick up hobbies and build things with our hands. Every 500 years, we will run for president and the internet will run wild with conspiracy theories.

We would no longer be trapped by the idea that we must succeed as a young adult, because otherwise we are a failure. Finally age really is just a number! Hooray! Youth is no longer king! Yay! Maybe if the fear of time running out was eliminated, we would all be happier? Maybe we would spend our train rides reading a book instead of thinking about what we would do if a viral apocalypse broke out (or is that just me?).

But while we finally have time to make a vision board, will we still have visions? I’m scared to live forever. While I regularly mourn the fact that there are so many things to see and less than one hundred years to do it, I don’t think I would be a person worth admiring if I had unlimited time. I’m motivated by deadlines and I worry an endless timeline would turn me into a lazy bum. I’d lose ambition and feel like I’m working towards nothing.

Not to mention that being immortal seems like a burden. You are practically obligated to be intelligent, to track history since you’ll be alive for all of it. What if history was always your least favorite subject… not to mention that obviously you would have to watch those you love die.

My point is, isn’t the idea of living forever just too daunting to deal with? The only plus side to immortality is the running for president every 500 years idea I mentioned earlier.

Readers, I want to hear from you. If you could live forever, would you want to? Would you still want to achieve those dreams or would all the time you have ahead of you be so exhausting that you crawl back into bed (speaking of, would we need to sleep anymore?)? Or would you be motivated by boredom to do something great?

Featured image via ShutterStock.