By Vincent DiBianca
A year or so ago, a few colleagues and I started to write a book
about the second half of life and how people could live a full and
fulfilling life until the day they die.
The treatise was that, in many ways, the second half could clearly
surpass the quality of experiences in the first half. I saw in my own
life and those around me profound examples of people 40 and older
reinventing their careers, physical condition and relationships.
Although I ran into some people who had bought into the notion that
life diminishes with age and just “got old”, more often I uncovered the
opposite—inspiring stories of people whose second half was the “time of
I delved into the conversation about living an incredible second half
and why it was so compelling to me, I ran face first into the whole
question about aging and how the fear of aging dominates my thinking.
In our culture, becoming “old folks” certainly isn’t a very inviting
proposition. Looking young and acting youthful seems to be the game
worth playing. I began to confront whether the underlying inspiration
for this book was more my way of not allowing myself to get old than it
was anything else. I noticed that writing this book the way we were
doing it didn’t feel quite right. Something was missing. It showed in
our results. We couldn’t attract a publisher. The book lost momentum
and was put aside.
Instead, now I’m conducting my own personal inquiry to examine and
confront my fear of aging. I started asking the question, “Is the
gating factor for me to live a full life the reactive way I think about
aging?” I now suspect that much of what I do (which I used to think was
just living full out) is nothing more than my avoiding getting old.
There is nothing wrong with vitamins, exercise and dating younger
women—is there? Ironically, I’m beginning to think that avoiding aging,
denying aging, resisting aging, trying to “stay young” is probably the
best way to not live a full and fulfilling life. After all, how can I
be creative, free and full of joy and at peace in my life and my
relationships if I am in an underlying state of fear, stress and worry?
I’ve come to see that, for me, the truth is that the fear of aging
(and what is associated with it like losing my looks, vitality and
virility) looms way larger than any other fear I have—including dying.