Wednesday, August 20th, 2014

Questions We Ask the Oldest People

Can you imagine reading a story like this about yourself?

A 111-year-old retired Japanese educator who enjoys poetry has been recognized as the world's oldest living man…

Asked how he felt about the record, Momoi pushed his back upright and said he wants to live longer.

"Say, another two years," he said.

Momoi said he enjoys reading books, especially Chinese poetry, and sometimes practices calligraphy.

He said there is no special trick for his longevity, but his caregivers say Momoi keeps early hours and eats healthy, according to NHK public television.

It's always the same pattern with these wire stories:

Oldest person, do you think you have long left?

I hope so, like most other people I do not want to die.

Oldest person, what are your hobbies?

I have some, I wish I had started more. I wish I had started a lot of things.

Oldest person, what is your secret?

Sleep, eating well. Do those count as secrets? Surely not. My friends did these things too and they are all gone, now.

You were alive during [war] and [major event in world history], and before [technology].


Oldest person, thank you for your time, my job is done and yours is too. I'll talk to your family right after you die!

Thank you, too. Now I must reckon, privately and in public, with the fact that I am the oldest man on Earth and still know nothing.

I think I would skip my turn, if possible.

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There are so many other things that are more interesting to ask. I'd love to know what changes has surprised him the most about society; what surprises him that hasn't changed from when he was young; what he did during major events. There's such a wealth of information and it's a shame that these articles reduce it to "oh you're really old. wow."

hershmire (#233,671)

@happymisanthrope I never understood that question "What surprises you the most?" He didn't wake up after a century like Rip Van Winkle and freak out at the sight of automobiles. He experienced everything second-by-second, day-by-day, year-by-year, gradually, like the rest of us.

How would you answer that question now? What changes in society surprise you the most from, say, 20 years ago? Not much, right? Everything kind of makes sense in retrospect. Of course the internet got big. Of course cell phones replaced land lines. Of course terrorism became a great threat. Of course cigarettes are looked down upon. 1994 you would flip his/her shit, but only because s/he didn't have 20 years to see it all develop.

That feeling only gets stronger the older you get because you have more evidence of how the whole cosmic picture fits together.

Frankly, I think living to being 110 would b e a fucking drag. All your best friends died so long ago you can no longer remember their names. Your life would be filled with watching people die, die die and die again. people you loved — all dead — so long dead that even their descendants don't remember them.

Being immortal would be the ultimate curse; being even semi-immortal, as in surviving past 100 would be horrific.

Dead, dead, dead. That would be your entire life.

I'd rather live fast, in 80 years, and die young, say, 81.

Nick Douglas (#7,095)

I'd like to have a turn to skip.

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