When I first began talking about my plan to live to be at least 119, the responses I got from people ranged quite a bit. Some took it with a grain of salt and brushed it off as me "being Andy" and others got pretty riled up about it, saying it there is no good reason to be alive that long, that all my family and friends will be long gone and I'll be lonely, that my body will break down and I'll be holding on just to say I made it to my goal.
The original idea came from my Great Grandfather turning 100 and passing away the same year, 1998. It seemed to some that he'd held on to make it to that birthday and then seemingly said, "welp, that was the goal. Love you all, I'm done." He had lived a very full 100 years, there is no question. But a few years later, I was thinking about that fact that he almost made it to 2000 and that if he had, he would have lived in three different centuries. That is when the idea struck me: If I live to be 119 I'll have lived in the 1900s, the 2000s, and the 2100s.
So I started making plans and talking about it. And with each brushback I got from people I told about my plans, I became even more obsessed with the idea. The negative responses actually convinced me how right this idea was.
"There's No Good Reason To Be Alive That Long"
This was the first one that really stuck with me because it was the most frequent response. Do people really only think that there are 60-80 years worth of things to do? That the ever increasing life expectancy rates for the majority of the world are actually causing people to thing they'll get bored at some later date, that they will run out of problems to solve, sunsets to see, challenges to address, or hugs to give? That being alive for a long time would be an inconvenience? Are they in a hurry to get somewhere else? If what I am working on right now only has can keep my attention for a few decades, maybe I should be thinking bigger.
"Family and Friends Will Die and I'll Be Alone"
I've had the chance to see my groups of friends and my relationship with my family continue to grow and mature, especially as it gets larger and larger and everyone grows into who they are becoming in the world and they bring more people into the family through marriage and birth. I mean, I no have a brother who is Irish and soon to be an Uncle for the 4th time! How cool is that? But then think about everything that will happen as those relationship continue to grow and mature. As being Uncle Andy turns into being Great Uncle Andy. And some day, hopefully, as becoming a father myself, seeing my future children grow into the incredible people I believe they will become and then they'll bring people into the family and I want to be there for all of it with all of them for as long as I have breath. Will being a grandfather or a great grandfather be so boring that people would wish it to stop sooner rather than later? And yes, being alive until 119 means I'll see people that I love pass away and friends that I love go through challenges and hardships. But that is what life is all about and I don't think it is going to become tiresome.
"My Body Will Break Down and I Won't Be Healthy"
What a great challenge! It certainly has me thinking about what I am doing now and that I need my body to keep cranking at a solid clip for another 84 years. If I put my health and my fitness on that kind of a timeline, I am not trying to wreck it or go hard on it thinking it only has to get me through another few decades. It causes me to ask questions and pursue habits that I can keep with me for a life time and also to invest time and effort in understanding the way the current and future technologies will give humans the ability to continue to live full lives in great health.
I think the thing that this idea has done the most for me is understand that there is a lot of time left and that I need to be tackling problems and challenges in my career and life that may take decades to build and to solve. That by extending what I believe is my window to disturb the universe, I am challenging myself to make decisions and fight battles worthy of another 80+ years of my life.
Will I make it to 119? Who knows. But does positioning myself for that opportunity make every moment between now and then a little better, absolutely.