Jonathan the Tortoise recently celebrated his 183rd birthday on the island of St. Helena. Jonathon was born in the Seychelles about 1832 and was given as a gift to the Governor of his current island home in 1882. Jonathan holds the distinction of being the oldest known living “creature” alive today. He has lost his sense of smell, and his sight due to cataracts, but other than that he is healthy as can be. Happy Birthday Jonathan.
And after I read the article about Jonathan, I began to ponder on the thought of living to extreme old age. I mean, scientists are working around the clock to try to find the exact mechanism to achieve just that. And the more I thought about it the more unpleasant a thought it became. Why in the world wouldn’t I relish the thought of living to be 183 years old. Well…let’s look at Jonathan’s lifetime.
He was born in 1832. George IV sat on the English Throne and the sun never set on the British Empire as it basked in it’s colonial power. The Reform Act became law in Britain. Andrew Jackson was President of the United States and Jacksonian Democracy was flourishing as America expanded. The Black Hawk War began and ended. Nicholas I was the Russian Czar and great reformations for the serfs were being discussed and enacted. The Pope was Gregory XVI. Catholicism, Protestantism, Islam and Judaism had accepted each other some time ago, although the fabric of their uneasy truces was almost transparent. Great sailing ships plied the waves and the horse was the main means of locomotion on land. Slavery was still an accepted institution in most of the world. The Treaty of London created the independent Kingdom Of Greece beginning it’s modern history. French balloonist Francois Arban made his first ascent as man began to reach for the sky. This was the year when Jonathan came out of his shell. A creature alive TODAY that actually breathed the same air and felt the same sunshine as those people who were alive to witness those events.
As the lustrums, decades and centuries passed, Jonathan quietly munched on fruit and vegetables plodded around in the mud and made little tortoises; blissfully oblivious as the world marched on and wondrous events were taking place. Great leaders and reformers. Rise and fall of powerful empires and governments. Illustrious discoveries and scientific advances. Geniuses of literature and art. Great wars with unbelievable carnage and destruction. Atrocities and abominations. Cruelties and outrages. Horrors and obscenities. Violations, crimes and abuses. Barbarities and brutalities. Savageries and inhumanities. Wickedness, evils and iniquities.
There is always a balance that must be paid on the bill.
Apparently from 1832 to 2016 has not been as gloriously wonderful as one first thought in the human realm. As a civilization, it seems history remembers we advance a step, only to be beaten back that step, and sometimes two steps. I’m sorry for that Jonathan.
Seems the average lifespan of a Seychelles Tortoise is 150 years, so our little brother is slightly over the average age, and will most likely see his second century easily…if we allow him. Enjoy your exile on St. Helena.
I guess my main reason is very selfish not to live as long as Jonathan. I simply would never want to outlive my children and grand-children. To have to bury the
It is written, you know…