According to NBC news, the oldest man in recorded history died on Wednesday, June 12, 2013 at the age of 116. Jiroemon Kimura, of Japan, born in 1897, was recognized by Guinness World Records for his achievement and dubbed "the last known man to live across three centuries".
Living 116 years is an accomplishment, but one has to wonder if living this long brings about a question of quality verses quantity? If you think about it, there are both pros and cons to such a lengthy life.
Kimura was under the care of his grandson's 60 year old wife before passing away due to pneumonia. Imagine the number of losses he has suffered in his lifetime - parents, siblings, a spouse, children, friends gone and yet, he lived on. Is this more grief than one person should have to bear? Or, was he fortunate to have shared his time with so many generations of family many of us will never have the opportunity to meet?
Consider the changes this man saw in his lifetime. He was born before the first Marconi radio signal was sent in the open sea and lived to see a world filled with instantaneous communication always available at one's fingertips. Was he fortunate to see the world change so quickly from a vast place filled with unexplored lands to today's global marketplace? Did he long for the way things used to be, or was he excited by each new "breakthrough" in travel, transportation, education and science? The answers to these questions have, unfortunately, died with him.
Let's pretend you have the opportunity to choose to live 116+ years or to pass away at a more average age, which, according to the Center for Disease Control is 77.6 years in the United States. If given the opportunity to live for 116 years or more would you do it? Are you be brave enough to to take it on, knowing the heartache you will surely suffer, all of the global changes you will have to adjust to, and the experience of seeing and feeling your body deteriorate with time?
If you did choose to live an extended life, would you live differently than you currently are? Would you strive to make a bigger impact on the world than you already have? Would you be thankful for each day, week, month and year? It is impossible to say for certain.
Maybe life is really is "what you make of it" no matter how long or short your time on earth may be. Regardless, cheers to your health and happiness and may you live a long (but perhaps not too long) life.