How to conquer our obsession with eternal life | Matt Haig

Our anti-ageing quest only increases nervousnes, mentions Matt Haig. Instead, we need to understand the tricks of time

As a culture, we are obsessed with ageing. We have always been haunted but now, paradoxically, in an age where we live longer than ever, we are afraid it more than ever before too. Here i am, of course, a whole industry devoted to capitalising on our fears of the natural ageing process and its a lucrative one. In fact, the anti-ageing industry, which is the largest part of the glamour industry, is now merit more than $200 billion a year.

Our perfectly understandable concern about occasion and mortality are being capitalised on, and exploited. Every advert that encourages us to look young is substantiating the same thing: we need to fear growing old-fashioned. And yet no anti-wrinkle eye ointment in the world is going to stop us from get old. The anti-ageing industry is a marketers daydream because it is an industry offering continual answers for something that isnt ever truly solved. Ageing.

Even if or when we work out how to put an end to the physical process of ageing and organisations such as the SENS Research Foundation and various Silicon Valley biotech firms are trying to do just that it wont curb our nervousness. It will accentuate them( not least, the ultimate dread of missing out for those who cant afford it ), and render us many new ones( a new population crisis being the first one ).

In How to Stop Time , my novel about a 439 -year-old man who ages far more gradually than normal, I wanted to think about what being really old would be like. I wanted to explore a character who was fight with his relationship to period. To see if it would be possible to espouse the current when you had so much past and so much future. I wanted to look at how period does not ever feel like the same thing.

I firstly truly understood this when I became ill with an overlapping cocktail of mental health problems in my 20 s. I developed panic disorder, severe anxiety and depression, and it was well over a year before I began to feel anything like normal again. In my mind, that year felt like an eternity. Days stretched out for what felt like weeks weeks for what felt like years. In my thinker that year still feels like half a lifetime. Time was the opponent, in that sense, but in another way it was a friend.

You ensure, depression and nervousnes told me a lot of lies that time could rebut. It told me I wouldnt be alive to see my 25 th birthday, or that by Christmas Id be confined to a padded cell wearing a straitjacket. Time was the one thing bigger than depression itself. And I could feel its ability as I built up periods and weeks and months. It was the money I traded in and accumulated. I have been ill for six days. I have been ill for 22 days. I have been ill for 365 days and I am still here.

Eventually, very slowly, my intellect readjusted itself and used to work the lies that depression and anxiety were telling it. The oldest clich in the world occasion mends turned out to be a clich for a reason.

So, I have an ambiguous are relevant to hour. I do have worries about developing old-fashioned, like everyone, but I would have equal worries about not developing old-fashioned. Rather than searching for a magical elixir of life eternal, we should understand like Emily Dickinson did that eternally is composed of nows. The objection is in how to stop worrying and occupy the nows that we have.

How to Stop Time by Matt Haig is published by Canongate Books, priced at 12.99. To ordering a photocopy for 7.99, go to bookshop.theguardian.com

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