On Longevity

S M Chen
6 min readJun 19, 2022

I recently encountered something that surprised me.

Use of this verb brings to mind something that purportedly happened to Noah Webster, he of dictionary fame.

Pixabay. Free use

Variations of the incident exist, and to different lexicographers.

Ever the defender of precision of verbiage, he was giving dictation to his secretary, who happened to be perched on his lap at the time.

Webster’s wife suddenly burst through the door.

Upon viewing the situation and drawing the inescapable conclusion, she exclaimed, “Why, Noah, I’m surprised!”

“No, my dear,” Noah corrected, setting the secretary down. “WE are surprised. YOU are astonished.”

The fact the dictionary went on to completion is a tribute to resilience.

Tomas Pueyo, age 40, born in 1982, reported an informal Twitter survey he conducted on the issue of immortality.

He found that under a third of those polled (over 300) didn’t want to live forever. If, given a choice, under 30% would choose immortality.

See this article:

This brings to mind something a roommate in graduate school once said.

Some years my senior, he’s now in his 80s and less mobile than once.

Suffering from a form of peripheral neuropathy, he opined, “I don’t know that I want to live to that age” (that being some years, but not that far off, hence).

Afflicted myself with some ailments older people get, I can somewhat relate.

But what if those extra years were good ones, unencumbered by sickness?

What if one’s health were good?

Political pundit Ben Stein recognized the limitations of age. An occasional lecturer at the college my offspring attended, he once encouraged students to do things when they were young, when they could more fully appreciate and enjoy the experience.