Wednesday Oct 04 2006
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 their lives”.
As 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.