Life Expectancy

The average age of a car is now reported 
to be 12.5 years— Cars are smarter, meaning

their mechanics are improved by things 
like electricity and computers. Once, I read 

that an engine is like a house built to contain 
explosions. After ignition, gas fires up the pistons 

and the resulting chain of combustion creates 
enough energy for turning the wheels. In 2022,

even in the midst of a global pandemic, the average 
life expectancy of humans is 72.98 years, not counting

cryonics experiments like the one in Arizona, where
a hundred and ninety-nine bodies and heads float

in shiny tanks of liquid nitrogen, waiting for a future 
science which, surely, will know what to do with them. 

How is it possible for a woman to live past her 105th
birthday, longer than any of her doctors, despite smoking 

daily for over half her life? Someone pronounced brain dead 
after a car crash can still make a gift of their tissues, corneas, 

or kidneys to a waiting organ recipient. My mother, now  
mostly propped up in bed in a nursing home, feels 

too weak to do anything but sleep—any day now, I'll think.
Yet there are times when she rallies or quarrels with her 

caregivers, days when she confides she wants a slice of cake 
and wants to live to be at least a hundred. We know there is

an end—when the mind's engine sputters and stalls in endless 
rewinds, when the body torques more vividly into a question

without answer; when the mottled flesh and fruit of this 
life peels steadfast into itself, shedding honey for bone. 

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