PUMPING IRONY: How to Make Time Stand Still

While tech billionaires throw millions at research aimed at delaying death, an aging couple shows us all how easy it is to embrace a moment that will last forever.

Larry and Doreen
Larry and Doreen Marie: making time stand still

When you hit your 60s, you attend a lot more funerals than weddings, so My Lovely Wife and I were surprised and delighted to get invited to the nuptials of an old friend on Saturday. Surprised because the bride had been happily single for her entire 64 years; delighted because there’s nothing like a (very) late-blooming romance to reinforce your faith in the universe’s ability to make happiness occur.

We hadn’t seen Doreen Marie in quite a while, so we didn’t discover the name of the groom until we got to the church, which made the whole episode a little more intriguing. It turned out that the two of them had dated 40 years ago and then went their separate ways. Larry rediscovered her a year or so ago, when he read a newspaper article about her work with the homeless. He got in touch with her, they rekindled their friendship, which somehow turned into something more, and now this.

The priest was more eloquent than that, of course. In fact, he was positively Buddhist in his homily, reminding the assembled of the importance of living in the moment and not regretting past decisions or worrying about future challenges. This was completely appropriate, given the journey these two lovebirds had taken to this place, but it’s generally instructive for anyone who feels they’re circling the drain, age-wise.

Especially when tech billionaires like Paypal cofounder Peter Thiel are throwing bushels of dough at researchers to develop strategies to prolong life indefinitely. As Ariana Eunjung Cha reports in the Washington Post, Thiel and his brethren from Google, Facebook, eBay, Napster, and Netscape are anxious to “rewrite the nation’s science agenda and transform biomedical research. Their objective is to use the tools of technology — the chips, software programs, algorithms and big data they used in creating an information revolution — to understand and upgrade what they consider to be the most complicated piece of machinery in existence: the human body.”

The inclination, I suppose, is laudable, but the hubris is pretty much off the charts.

Cha lays it out pretty clearly:

“The entrepreneurs are driven by a certitude that rebuilding, regenerating, and reprogramming patients’ organs, limbs, cells and DNA will enable people to live longer and better. The work they are funding includes hunting for the secrets of living organisms with insanely long lives, engineering microscopic nanobots that can fix your body from the inside out, figuring out how to reprogram the DNA you were born with, and exploring ways to digitize your brain based on the theory that your mind could live after your body expires. ‘I believe that evolution is a true account of nature,” as Thiel put it. “But I think we should try to escape it or transcend it in our society.'”

Or as Oracle founder Larry Ellison has said, “Death has never made any sense to me. How can a person be there and then just vanish, just not be there.”

I wish Ellison had been at the wedding on Saturday, so he could see how that once-lost white-haired twosome had embraced a moment in which, for them at least, time had stood still. How they had grasped a new life together at an age when guys like Ellison are anxiously counting the days until someone, somewhere comes up with something that will delay the inevitable.

, an Experience Life deputy editor, explores the joys and challenges of aging well.

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