One of the interesting aftereffects of my meeting with centenarian Bob Teichner only happened as I lay in bed, waiting to fall asleep.
I was suddenly overwhelmed with an intense, almost unbearable fear of death.
On a daily basis, I happily ignore my mortality, assuming that it’s far off in the future. But if I’m lucky enough to live to be a feisty 100 like my new friend Bob, I won’t be able to make that assumption.
The murky nature of the future also allows me to shunt aside these fears with vague hopes that the Singularity arrives in my lifetime, and that I’m able to upload my consciousness.
But in the darkness, by myself, I know that the odds are strongly that I will live and die like so many billions before me.
My mind was still troubled when I fell asleep. But as the Russian saying goes, the morning is wiser than the evening.
For me, mortality is a faint bogeyman in the distance. For Bob, it’s a constant companion. At 100, he’s outlived friends and family alike. He can feel the dimming of his powers. And yet, despite it all, he perseveres and is happy.
At 100, he no longer has goals he needs to accomplish; he’s already done it all. But he can still appreciate the simple pleasures of reading his email and spending an afternoon with a fine detective novel. Even if his mind and memory work at a slower pace than before, the words on a page are patient and constant.
I still fear death, but Bob gives me hope that as it draws nearer, my fear of the unfamiliar will fade into a smiling acceptance and serenity.