Me and a Can of Beans

The trivia question for this week is, What famous musician wrote the line in a song that says “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans”?

I was making my dinner tonight, and every once in a while as I prowl through my cabinets, I come across a can of something that I had forgotten I had and check the expiration date. Tonight it was a can of beans that had been shoved into a dark corner and been there long enough to start collecting dust. Assuming it was headed to the garbage, I scraped clear the expiration date, and there it was: “Best by March 20, 2018.” This forgotten can of beans still had at least a year and a half to go, and even at that the date was not a termination date, just a “best by” date. I have no idea when I purchased that can of beans, but obviously technology had found a way to give it something better than an expiration date. Instead, it got a “best by” date.

We all have an expiration date. It’s stamped in some type of invisible DNA format on our foreheads when the blinding light of life hits our eyes and wrinkled skin. Just in my own life the average life expectancy has increased. But a doctor, Jan Vijg, an expert on aging at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, says “It seems highly likely we have reached our ceiling. From now on, this is it. Humans will never get older than 115.” Dr. Vijg published his report on Wednesday, October 5, in the journal Nature. He says our best hope lies in creating and living a healthy lifestyle and that advances in medicine will help us stay healthy into perhaps the 100th year and a skosh more and allow us to be healthy active people rather than just dangling sinew hanging on for dear life. He gives a lot of evidence to back up his claim, and rather than me prattle on about his findings, look at the article in the October 6 edition of The New York Times. It will help lead you down the path of despair.

However, James W. Vaupel, the director of the Max-Planck Odense Center on the Biodemography of Aging, rejects the idea of having reached our age limit, calling the new study a travesty. “It is disheartening how many times the same mistake can be made in science and published in respectable journals,” he said.

Now I have something else to say. While scientists and doctors and researchers on aging are battling out how long the human being might be capable of existing simply based on genetic makeup, what about the fact that we are going to kill ourselves off anyway with poison in our food, pollution in our drinking water, chemicals in our air, radioactive waste pouring into the oceans especially off the shores of Japan after Fukushima, and the possibility that some nutcase somewhere is going to push the magic button on a nuclear weapon? If I remember correctly in my advancing years and increasingly feeble mind what an average is, it’s taking a bunch of numbers, adding them together, and then dividing the sum by the total of numbers added.  If we continue to destroy the earth the way we are and some dark cloud of death covers us all someday, then the age of 1 day to 100 years (roughly 36,500 days) averages out to a bit more than 50 years. Maybe the best way to live a healthy life into the 100th year and a skosh more is to take care of the only real home we have, and that is earth. I’m not saying I expect or maybe even want to live forever, but I would like the chance to outlive a can of beans.

In the podcast, I doubt I will have anything more to say about beans, but there will be rock and roll news and history and the answer to the trivia question, all on the shores of Rambling Harbor. I hope you’ll join me there.

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