Recently, I watched a documentary by Mark Wexler entitled ‘How To Live Forever’. For Mark, it was a three year journey around the globe in search of the oldest living human beings and what makes them keep on living.
As one might expect, many of the oldest living people on the planet can be found in cultures where a healthy diet- low calorie, high nutrient- is a staple of life. For example, most people in a small fishing village in Japan live to be well over 100, and are still very healthy and cognizent until the end. Mainly, this is because they eat lots of nutrient rich sea vegetables, freshly farmed foods, and omega-3 rich fish. This discovery was not surprising.
The most interesting discoveries Mark made in the film were the outliers. Many of the oldest living humans did not grow old on working out at the gym or breakfasts, lunches, and dinners of seaweed. One particular outlier that stuck with me was a man of 110 years old named Buster from the UK. He adamantly stated that he hates water and loves only beer and his pipe. The man lives on booze and tobacco. And he runs marathons.
As I am watching the film, and seeing characters like Buster, I couldn’t help but wonder, what DOES make us live longer? Mark does not answer the question in the film, but leaves it open ended for the audience. However, there were two things that ALL the people interviewed had in common. The first was an active life. This does not correspond to the gym. I mean real activity- running races, flying kites, biking, gardening, spear fishing. They all had something important to them that kept their bodies and their minds going. The second was an obvious zest for life. Every single interviewee had a very carefree attitude and stress-free spirit. They never feared aging or thought about dying. They focused solely on living, being present in each moment and enjoying whatever life might bring. It is amazing to recognize how powerful our outlook and our attitude is on our quality of life and our life span.
In a culture where we are obsessed with being, looking, and feeling young, it is hard not to think about aging negatively. But I’ll have you know that each person interviewed in the film was asked the one same question: If you could take a pill to make you live another 100 years, would you? They all said no. They all felt that life was a miracle, meant to be short and sweet, and when the time has come to go, it is a welcome and beautiful thing.