Biohacking? Life is too short.

Dave Asprey, who apparently is another of those well-known people with a well-known company that I have never heard of, has a goal. He is passionate about it, and he is working hard and spending a fortune to achieve it. His aspiration? To live to be 180.

According to a January article by Rachel Munroe in Men’s Health, this is what he’s doing to reach that goal:

  • He eats a diet that includes no gluten and is 50 to 70 percent fat.
  • He takes 100 supplements a day.
  • He regularly uses a hyperbaric oxygen chamber or immerses himself in ice water.
  • He exercises, but not by going to an ordinary gym. His home office includes an array of high-tech exercise machines, one of which “promises to deliver two and a half hours of exercise in 21 minutes.”
  • Every six months, he has half a liter of his own bone marrow harvested, then has the stem cells from it injected into various parts of his body, including his spinal cord.

All this is based on something called “biohacking.” Merriam Webster defines it as “biological experimentation done to improve the qualities or capabilities of living organisms, especially by individuals and groups working outside a traditional medical or scientific research environment.”

“Outside a traditional research environment” certainly describes what Asprey is doing. He has become a lifestyle guru who preaches the virtues of his practices despite little to no evidence that they actually work.

Of course, this level of biohacking is expensive. He estimates he has spent at least a million dollars so far—and he’s only 45. Where does the money come from? The sales of supplements, books, access to Asprey’s fitness center, speaking engagements, and his butter-laced Bulletproof Coffee. If one’s first aspiration is to live to age 180, apparently one’s second aspiration needs to be making millions to pay for all the biohacking.

If I should ever meet Dave Asprey, I’d like to ask him one simple question: “What for?”

“Assuming you might reach your goal of living to 180, or even fall short by a few years and only get to 169 1/2, what do you intend to accomplish with all those extra years? What good do you want to do? What legacy do you want to leave? What—besides becoming an answer in trivia games and an entry in Guinness World Records, do you want to be remembered for?”

Obviously, each of us has every right to make our own millions if we wish and to spend them in whatever sort of self-focused biohacking we might want to try. But I have my doubts about the satisfaction of a life whose primary goal is a self-obsessed focus on keeping one’s own precious, irreplaceable body alive and well as long as possible.

As a collector of other people’s stories, I’m a faithful reader of obituaries. Some people live a long time. Others, unfortunately, don’t have that privilege. My partner’s death last fall at age 77 was well short of the 90 or so years his genes and his healthy lifestyle led us to expect for him. The treasured mentor of a friend of mine died in her early 70’s. I recently read the obituary of a man who died in his early 60s after a life limited by physical and mental challenges.

None of these three people lived notably long lives—certainly not anywhere close to Dave Asprey’s goal of 180 years. Yet the loving tributes at their deaths made it clear that all of them had a deep impact on the people around them. Each of them, in various ways, taught others, influenced others, and made the world better with their lives.

We’re all given the gift of life. Each of us, I think, has a responsibility to take good care of the bodies that carry that life. But our greater responsibility is to use the gift of life well. This has more to do with the depth of our lives than the length of our lives.

So rather than worrying too much about how many birthdays we can accumulate, it might be better to enjoy the cake as we celebrate each one. To hang out with the people we love and to do the things that feed our minds and our souls.

And in case you still think age 180 would be cool as the new age 93, let me point out one more thing before you schedule your first stem cell injections: If you deduct all the time you would need to spend earning millions, exercising, freezing or super-oxygenating your body, swallowing supplements, and getting inspected, injected, and perfected, your remaining usable lifetime would only be about 73 years.

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