April's CR Diary

A diary of a 30 year old woman following CRON, or Caloric Restriction with Optimal Nutrition, for health and life extension.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

A Place That Has To Be Believed To Be Seen

[For this blog entry, you will need one copy of U2's "Walk On," which you may think is called "All That You Can't Leave Behind" because that's what it sounds like. You may also need a quick refresher on Greek myths, but most likely not.]

Back in September, I wrote a blog entry you can find here http://aprilcr.blogspot.com/2004/09/youre-packing-suitcase-for-place-none.html
referring to U2's "Walk On." In that entry, I briefly touched on the fact that those of us who do CR are engaged in an experiment whose results are uncertain, but which we believe will get us more years of life and health than living the way those around us live.

Last night as I was leaving my second to last public meeting with nurses (the last one will be Thursday, complete with a vegetable tray that no one other than VLC and I will touch) the song floated through my mind again. I am now leaving a life I've loved for a very long time in the belief that I'm heading for a place that has to be believed to be seen: a world where we no longer view aging and death as inevitable.

I think I started to hear the song in my head because an online discussion with one of my anti-aging superheroes got me thinking about how I would literally pack a suitcase for my first trip in my official capacity. I have a very large book to bring to said anti-aging superhero, and I'm trying to figure out how it will co-exist with the very warm sweaters I have to bring to Calgary so that I don't freeze to death. I have this rule about packing: I never, ever check a bag. Never, ever ever. Was traumatized by loss of luggage during a blizzard in Boston in 1994. So in the process of figuring out how to pack this book, my sweaters, dried cranberries for another one of my anti-aging superheroes, and other necessary items, I started to play the U2 song in my head. (Don't worry, anti-aging superhero -- the book will arrive safely in Calgary. I am very good at packing.)

I felt a stab of sadness leaving the nurses' meeting last night... while I have no doubt in my mind that I've made the right decision, it's always hard to say goodbye. This line from the U2 song jumped out at me:

And if your glass heart should crack
And for a second you turn back
Oh no, be strong
Walk on...

Then I remembered one of my favorite stories of someone who looked back: the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice. Here's the short version:

When Orpheus' wife, Eurydice, was killed by the bite of a serpent, he went down to the underworld to bring her back. His songs were so beautiful that Hades finally agreed to allow Eurydice to return to the world of the living. However, Orpheus had to meet one condition: he must not look back as he was conducting her to the surface. Just before the pair reached the upper world, Orpheus looked back, and Eurydice slipped back into the netherworld once again.
[by James Hunter, available here: http://www.pantheon.org/articles/o/orpheus.html]

A fitting story for those who have decided to dedicate their lives to cheating death.

Orpheus lost his wife, even after he had rescued her from the land of the dead, because he looked back.

I feel like those of us who are working to develop real anti-aging medicine are taking a slow-motion walk up from the world of the dead. Getting ourselves, and more importantly, the people we love, to the surface, depends on our belief that we will be successful. If we pause to look back, if we get distracted by the millions of other things we could be doing, we will watch our loved ones slip back into the netherworld. Not today, perhaps not for many years, but eventually.

Today I'll let Jean Cocteau have the last line, from _Orphee_:

"La femme Eurydice reviendra de la morte."


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