Hal Holbrook’s one-man stage performance, Mark Twain Tonight, consisted of his dressing in character and delivering a selection of Mark Twain’s writings, the choices varying in response to his mood and his reading of the audience.
In the first recording of the performance I heard, Holbrook told this anecdote: Twain was informed by his physician that if he were to give up smoking, drinking, and rich foods, he would add ten years to his life. His response was that if he were to give up those “delicacies,” the extra ten years wouldn’t be worth living.
I agree. I don’t smoke (I suffered from the effects of secondary smoking until I graduated from college, and I saw how it contributed to my parents’ deteriorating health and eventual death). But I do drink and eat rich food and the like. And I definitely agree that, while giving all that up might add years to my life, those years would not be worth living.
What matters is quality of life, not duration.