Ageing is the most exposed thing that any of us will ever do - simply by living. Everyone who lives will go through this process but ever since the 5th Century BC, humanity has persisted in trying to prevent it - ever searching for the fountain of youth. And after all those centuries, immortality still eludes us, and we are vulnerable because of it.
We perceive ourselves as vulnerable because we see youth as the pinnacle of our being. Age is held up as the evidence that we are losing our footing in the race of life. We love to celebrate birthdays but the more we have, the less we want to acknowledge what they represent. Old age seems like a box we don't want to tick; but the only people who evade it are those who escaped it entirely. Think.....who paid the ultimate price for beauty in perpetuity....still so keen?
Sarah Silverman, comic and social observer, raises an interesting point. In a conversation with Jerry Seinfeld, she noted that there are lots of girls today who watch their mothers fret over every wrinkle in their attempt to hit "the pause button" - at every opportunity, at any cost. This widespread ambition to stop the clock makes our next generation fear their own ageing, as they become unwilling to daydream about their own futures.
Consider for a moment that you're pre-to post pubescent and maybe even a young mother, and your mom looks exactly like you (or better) and never changes. You watch your body go through major changes while hers is frozen; what impact might that have on developing and accepting your own identity? It's like trying to square real life with the Kardashian world.
We already know how the rampant pressure being exerted on people to conform to an idealized, stylized, ageless beauty is mainstream without anyone taking ownership of the idea. And its an ideology that has pervasive but prejudiced impact. Fitzgerald was right, the rich are different. In this case, they throw every last bit of their wallets at the elusive stopped clock, high on hopes of cheating time of its timeless due. Ignorant to their impotence in the face of it.
How did we get here? And if we don't succumb to the pressure, why does that imply that we are letting ourselves down, letting ourselves go? It seems we've made a rod for our own backs. It is up to all of us to embrace nature as nurture and teach self acceptance.
The BBC has aired a two part series How to Stay Young and the answer boils down to SPOILER ALERT - lifestyle choices. No new revelations but everyone likes lists so here you go:
1 Increase fruits, veg and nuts and decrease meat,
2 Up your exercise by doing things you actually like doing
3 Lower stress with meditation and try to look on the bright side
4 If you can, get a dog and if you have one, take it to work with you!
If it makes you feel good, do it but don't get suckered into the hype. Hope in a scalpel, a syringe or a bottle is still only hope. Google's Calico (California Life Company) is committed to life extension and they will undoubtedly figure out a way to do just that. But when it's all said and done, and assuming we were to find out that we can have forever, would we really even want it?
We deal with ageing in slow motion, every single day and yet no one likes to talk about 'it'. This conversation is for everyone who wants to age, which is the same as saying you want to live. It is a choice and it does not matter how young you might think you look or even think you wish you were. Starting now it's got to be great, not just ok, to get old. It's time.
The ultimate currency.