Eva Bradley: Lift a glass of red wine and pledge to live life to its fullest

By Eva Bradley

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Eva Bradley is an award-winning columnist.
Eva Bradley is an award-winning columnist.

Freddie Mercury asked the big question first and it is one that makes me wonder still: Who wants to live forever?

New research out this week claims to prove that if you live a life without vice and deny yourself the simple pleasures of old age such as overindulgence and a penchant for laziness, you're a goner.

You'll quite likely shuffle off this mortal coil a decade sooner than those annoying, clean-living old mates you play bridge with every Wednesday afternoon at the rest home.

Granted the Swiss study published in Preventive Medicine put it somewhat more scientifically than that, but the premise was the same: Live life large, and live to regret it. Or, rather, don't live to regret it. Put another way: Live hard, die young (ish).

The message to be taken from this research is that when you hit the twilight years of 65-plus, consumption of alcohol should drop in direct proportion to increasing intake of fruit and vegetables. Exercise should increase and smoking should definitely stop.

Seriously, though, where's the fun in that?

After a life of hard work, dieting and denial, isn't your retirement exactly when you should be able to let it all go and have some fun without the guilt trip?

Socrates said once that the unexamined life is not worth living and one could equally add that neither is the life free of guilty pleasures.

With all due respect to the octogenarians out there reading this and taking offence, if I can make it to a sprightly 70-something and then peacefully expire in the night beside a fine glass of red wine and some chocolate, I'll be happy.

Eking out another achy decade by doing without all the small indulgences in life while also possibly losing the bigger ones like mobility, senility and continence just doesn't seem worth it.

Of course, this is easy to say when you're half that age and imagining life as an old woman seems inconceivably horrible. Maybe when I get there I will still feel like I'm 30 but without the mortgage, work stress and nagging family commitments. In which case I'll reassess. And put down the red wine.

But until that time I can't quite understand the desire to push on through to the oldest age medically possible.

While we consider it humane to put down our beloved pets the moment quality of life is compromised by age, we have a perverse insistence on dragging out human life beyond its use-by date - occasionally against the wishes of those in possession of the remaining shreds of said life and frequently beyond what nature would have intended.

These views would seem to make me a staunch supporter of euthanasia, which I suppose were I to examine my deep brain more fully I might have to conclude was a true presumption.

But really, all I'm really in favour of is living the life we do have to its full potential and weighing up if years on the ground, like notches on the bedpost, really equate to a life well lived.

I don't want to go out early in a blaze of glory but nor do I want to go quietly into that good night with a herbal health tea, a guilt trip about not doing water aerobics three times a week.

Death, like most things in life, is something that should be approached with balance and reason. And occasionally with the help of a king-size bar of chocolate or one naughty nightcap more than is advisable.

- Northern Advocate

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