There was a show on public TV today about 20 tips to staying young.
It is the theme in a zillion magazine articles at the grocery checkout
that are, not surprisingly, targetted to the graying celebrities and
Baby Boomers. The problem I have is I don’t like the phrase ‘staying
young’. It reveals the context in which we all live—a context in which
growing older is a negative part of our lives, a phase to be accepted
but put off as long as possible. This is the culture of decline I have
spoken about in other postings.
I think most of us ‘feel’ younger than we think we are supposed to feel at whatever age we are now.
But this fact makes my point. How old is it supposed to feel when you
are 60 or 70 or 80? Maybe we’re supposed to feel this way as we age. In
their book Younger Next Year,
Crowley and Lodge give a pretty convincing argument and lots of
evidence that, with exercise and a reasonable diet, none of us have to
deteriorate at all and we can feel better and better as we age.
My theory is that the ego doesn’t get older and spends the last half
of its life in denial or resistance to changes in the body that occur
naturally. This is a major source for the negative aspects of aging—we
get what we resist.
What if we just let our bodies grow older and committed ourselves to
being the age we feel without concern for what we should be feeling or
how we should be acting? What if by simply living life to the fullest
and continuing to create possibilities we could have all that we would
hope to have by ‘staying young’—not as a function of resistance or
denial, but as a choice?
I am fine with however people choose to live, including how they may
choose to grow older. I only get interested when I realize that I am
living in a cultural interpretation that is sufficiently powerful and
transparent as to rob me of choice—a culture that defines me by my age
rather than my commitments and actions. This is the same gripe that
people who have been marginalized or discriminated against for any
reason have always had. I guess it’s my turn now.