I saw as report on television a few days ago about a woman celebrating her 105th birthday. Can you picture yourself at that age? I can. When I hear friends and co-workers between ages 35 and 50 talk about being old, I laugh and growl at the same time. Thirty-five is definitely not old and neither is 50, in my opinion.
I have joked about wanting to have a 100th birthday party when I get there but I am dead serious. Wait, let me rephrase that … I am completely serious. Many family members one or two generations ahead of me made it to their 90s. Health and lifestyle changes over the past century have significantly increased average life spans, so I think 100 is an achievable goal.
One comment this very alive and aware woman made regarding turning 105 is that so much has changed in the world. She mentioned email as one example but there are many equally significant inventions and events that have occurred since 1908, her birth year. Here are a few, some of which might surprise you:
- Powered human flight had only happened for the first time five years before her birth.
- She was a child when Arizona and New Mexico became states and just over 50 when Alaska and Hawaii joined the union.
- Women didn’t have the right to vote till 1920.
- The woman in the story was four years old when the Titanic sank. She remembers hearing the tragic news. And she would have heard it from people reading about it because commercially licensed radio stations didn’t begin till 1920.
- Telephones existed but most people didn’t have them yet. Same with indoor plumbing.
- If you heard music at home it might have come from people playing musical instruments in your house. The earliest available ‘home phonograph’ was still fairly new.
- The ball dropped at Times Square for the first time in 1908. While we’re in New York, a law there at the time prohibited women from smoking in public.
- The Ford Model T came out that year but most people didn’t own a car and many people had never seen one.
- Television, movies with sound, computers, heart transplants, microwave ovens and credit cards are just a few things we take for granted that all came about for the first time during her lifetime.
For a bit more perspective, let’s say you’re 45 and not 105. That means you were born around 1968. Here are some inventions and events that are younger than you:
- Human space flight had only had only happened seven years before and humans had not walked on the moon yet.
- Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was still alive at the beginning of 1968.
- Most of the Interstate highway system was still under construction.
- Airports didn’t have metal detectors yet.
- Television news coverage from war zones (specifically Vietnam) was filmed. On film. The film had to be developed, shipped to TV network facilities in California, edited and eventually shown on news programs. Live coverage of anything from places that far away was rare and live reporting from the middle of a war zone was virtually impossible.
- Many families still did not have color televisions and there were rarely more than four TV channels.
- Birth control pills were a fairly new medical breakthrough in 1968 and condoms were behind the counter at pharmacies and not at eye level in aisle 10 at Safeway. A guy had to ask for them. And there weren’t many choices.
- Most airliners still had propellers.
- You were 10 years old before the first mass produced single-person computers started hitting the shelves and in your teens when the term ‘personal computer’ came about. You were also at least 10 before cell phones were available but in your 20s before texting started and well over 30 before any of that became common place.
- The internet, email, cassettes, CDs, 3-point seatbelts, HBO, legal interracial marriage in all 50 states, debit cards and Starbucks are all younger than you.
As I watched the story of the 105-year-old woman I wondered what life will be like when I get to that milestone. The pace of development is growing exponentially. The computer I’m using to write this post is five years old and already needs to be replaced. Will keyboards be replaced by a wireless connection to the brain before my 105th birthday? Will the latest trendy resort be on the moon? Will locks and keys be replaced by an implant in my arm that is programmed to open appropriate doors? Will I finally be able to date someone 20 years my junior without being considered creepy … (Did you see that girl he’s with? She’s only 85!). Will Taylor Swift be recording instrumentals because she finally found a long-term relationship and ran out of material for lyrics?
Some people I know do not want to live that long, mostly because they picture old age as an uncomfortable time of life filled with medical issues and loss of body and mind function. I understand. But I am also blindly optimistic. That 105 lady was in fairly decent health. I know a woman who was still driving the last time I saw her; she was 88 or 89 years old then. Life can be pretty good as we get to the extreme and scientific and medical developments that improve quality of life are also advancing exponentially.
So remember that you’re invited to my 105th birthday. I’m also inviting the media so they do a story about me on brainavision. I’ll be the one in the corner making out with my 85-year-old girlfriend.