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Extending Time's Sponsorship: Is There a Secret to Living a Long Life?

When Time Withdraws His Sponsorship

Time,

is a limiting, inhibitive, sponsor man

of greed, hunger, one-eyed

telescope and key-hole peeping -

armed with a foreclosure on your life.

When He

withdraws sponsorship of all

these personal implicitly complicit complexities

of the truth of what is

really and objectively -

as against subjectively - there - stop!

Put your trust in your gods

no longer.

The breath of life has abandoned you - and you are

crossed, eye-to-eye, dead;

cross-eyed-to-eyed dead … Ooooo!

diddly-eye, dyed-in-the-wool dead.*

Hone Tuwhare

Death. In the form of a random mutation of cells, a blood clot, tragic accident or peacefully in one’s sleep. It will happen to all of us. Some sooner than others. Death has touched my family and my friends. It has not been fair and it has not been the fault of the victim. When awful things happen we look for someone to blame. If the person who died prematurely was overweight then we judge, if they didn’t exercise we judge. If they had a stressful life we judge. This doesn’t make sense though. If we plug their stats into a life expectancy calculator it will probably still give them a retirement period and a chance at old age. I did this with my father-in-law in mind and overestimated his weight, the amount he drank and his stress levels while underestimating his level of exercise and vegetables eaten. Still he calculated out as living into his eighties. Trying it with my forest living, vegetarian, non smoking, daily exercising Aunt and she was given a life expectancy into her 90s. They were ripped off. Ben died in his early 60s, Kerry in her early 50s.

The life expectancy calculator I used was developed using Canadian Community Health Surveys from 2001 to 2005 (sample size of 550 000). It’s quite fun but It doesn’t factor in chance. Nora Ephron likens death to a sniper, and I don’t know if my life will be cut short by cancer, stroke or car accident. If I do live into my 90s or even 100s I have some very good role models. My neighbour Mrs Behrman died earlier this year aged 107. She was a refugee twice in her childhood, first from Latvia then Russia. She trained as a journalist in London and during World War Two she arranged for Jewish refugees to work on farms in the UK. After the war she was recruited to Mossad and escorted Jewish orphans to Palestine. She was a woman who was concerned not just with her local community but the state of the world.

My Nana Ann is similarly engaged and interested in the world around her. She has always been very active in Trade Aid and had to stop going to University of the Third Age when she lost her drivers licence in her 90s. She is 101 and is still living in her own home, gardening, jigsaw puzzling and reading avidly. Ann moved to NZ from London after World War Two, leaving behind the rationing, the memories of lost loved ones and the rubble. She started a new life on the other side of the world and met her husband there, he had been a in a German Prison of War Camp. She described the two of them as being drawn to each other as they were both traumatised by the war in a way that many New Zealanders didn’t understand. They wanted and needed a gentle and simple life, they decided to run an orchard together. But they also needed to stand up against injustice. They were activists, they marched against Nuclear testing, against destruction of native forest, against the Springbok tour of NZ, against Vietnam. They made friends with local politicians. Their two closest friends came to be like second parents to their children. Ann’s family were on the other side of the world she had to make her own tribe in her new country.