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.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Consider Me a Widow, Boys, And I Will Tell You Why

[This entry has been kicking around in my head since last Sunday, but I had to focus all my creative energies on actual fundraising, so it had to wait.]

One of my Three Hundred brothers suggested that I read a book called _Longitude_ by Dava Sobel, so that I could educate myself about the power of prizes. I immediately ordered the book and read it, finishing last weekend. It is about the prize that was offered for the scientist who could discover the secret of longitude, or how to tell where you are when you are at sea. There are obvious problems with being lost at sea: you could wander forever, or you could apruptly beach yourself on rocks because you didn't know you were so close to the shore. Many sailors died because there was no reliable way to tell longitude at sea. So after a major disaster in which thousands of sailors died in one day, a prize was offered for the discovery of longitude.

A humble watchmaker found the secret at last... while astronomers got all the hefty grants from the crowned heads of Europe.

I joked with my Three Hundred brother that he had given me nightmares about scurvy... reading about all these sailors becoming black and blue as through bruised as they floated aimlessly at sea, dying from a lack of vitamin C, did indeed give nightmares. But in the most vivid of these dreams, I had a clear vision of walking out along the shore, on the high platform called the Widow's Walk, looking out to sea for the ship that I had long ago lost hope of ever seeing again.

I can imagine how the wives of those thousands of sailors who died for lack of longitude felt... they lost the people whom they loved most for sheer lack of knowledge. Not to war, or famine, or disease, but to simple ignorance. We don't know where we are, and we don't know how to find out, so innocent people will die.

I woke up the next morning and grabbed my copy of Suzanne Vega's CD "Songs in Red and Gray." The song "Widow's Walk" had grabbed me from the first time I ever heard it, driving my car to my office in Vermont in 2002. But for the first time I found myself listening to the song over and over again, as I relived the vision of walking the widow's walk and cursing the lack of knowledge that had most certainly taken someone I loved away from me, forever.

Then today I did a radio interview with one of my brother life-extensionists, Dr. J Hughes, who hosts a Saturday radio show -- check it out at www.changesurfer.com. Dr. J asked me on the air why I thought there were so few women involved in life-extension, and we discussed how life-extensionism has been considered a selfish pursuit: you want to live forever. But what of everyone else?

I told Dr. J that I think of my life-extension work as not so much for me, but for those I love. Those in whom I can see the molecular processes that took generations before me visibly erupting in before my eyes.

One of my close friends, who has known me since way before I got into CR of life-extension or anything of the sort, said to me the other day that I have always been far more motivated by relationships than by ideology. Perhaps that's true. I see the world as a series of relationships, in which we are all dependent on each other. I see my work at fighting aging as an immediate, urgent attempt to save the people I love from death and decay. I hear the clock ticking. I see the seas rising and threatening to take the people I care about away from me. And I'm not going to stand back and watch it happen. Like I imagine those sailors' widows before longitude, I'm going to walk right up to the crowned heads and demand that something be done, before someone else's husband is sacrificed on the altar of our ignorance.

The headline of this post is taken from Suzanne Vega's "Widow's Walk," and I'll close with more:

So consider me a widow, boys
And I have told you why
Does the weather say a better day
Is nearing?
And I'll set my house in order now
And wait upon the Will
Cause it's clear that I need
Better skill in steering.

That light is the horizon.


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