From the front page of the WSJ today, March 23, 2013, I was jolted into a sense of my own immortality. The title: “Science Fiction Comes Alive As Researchers Grow Organs in Lab.” While most people would think this an exciting advancement, it scares the holy crap out of me.
It’s not because of the science fiction of it, Frankenstein notwithstanding, nor because I am afraid of having some test-tube heart or ear or liver. No. My fear is living too gosh darn long. My mom, God bless her, is 101, and wishes (because she is still very bright, sharp, and beats me at dominoes) with her nightly “Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep” prayer, to die. She’s tired of living.
It’s now a race. Can I make it out of this world by age ninety or so, or do I have to stay trapped in a rebuilt million-dollar body until I’m 110 or even more? What is going to kill us? If I have a one million dollar heart, what about my 50¢ brain? Can they grow more brain cells? If so, then who will pay for all of this? We know the birth rate in this country is declining to an alarming and destructive rate, so that our new workforce is dwindling, and thus fewer young people are paying less into social security. Result: we will not be able to sustain ourselves. Where does this leave the government? Where does this leave medicine? Where does this leave me?
I would like to trust that someone will save the day. Steve Jobs is gone. Until then, I will race to my death to beat the scientists that would like me to have a new heart after I’m 90. Or perhaps by that time, we’ll have an app for living without a brain.