Since it is Father’s Day, I thought I would discuss something my father has always taught me to admire—longevity. My father, David, has always made a big deal about living a long life. Growing up, I often heard him emphasize the age of “old” people. He also spoke regularly of the importance of taking vitamins and eating lots of protein and nutrients as a means to ensure a long, healthy life. He didn’t just preach, he used to take 10 g of Vitamin C a day (that’s 20-500 mg pills) and a host of other vitamins, probably thirty pills a day; I am not sure of his daily regimen now.
Anyhow, as a result of this “teaching,” I can say that I value longevity. I’ve learned through my scholarship that life expectancy is one of the best indicators of the “well-being” in a country. If people in a country are living long lives, it can be expected that the country also has good quality health care (especially for soon-to-be mothers and children), educational opportunities, and food access for the vast majority of its people; this is in contrast to economic indicators, such as GNP (Gross National Product), which often can mask suffering among its lower classes. I cherish the opportunity to speak to older people as I realize that they have encountered a lot of things that I haven’t lived through—-with experience comes a fair bit of wisdom.
Japan is home to the highest percentage of centenarians (with some 60,000+ of them currently); there is some debate on this, apparently Cuba may have recently surpassed Japan (ref 1). And while I hope to reach the “100” mark (my dad is working towards it to–still running ~14 miles a week at age 72), I realize that a few things working against me. One I am a male. For every male that reaches 100 years, there are 6 females that do. Also, being large (6’4”, 235 lbs) doesn’t help my cause either (ref 2). Yet, given that no statistic is deterministic, I will still eat my “fruits and vegetables” and wish for the best. Better still, I’ll use the time I have on this wonderful planet to make it better for me, my planetary neighbors (of all species), and most of all, on this day, my children!