The search for the fountain of youth is an age-old tale. This recent bio-tech article makes it clear just how off-putting the idea of aging is for some, and how desperately we want a “cure.”
“David Sinclair, a geneticist at Harvard Medical School, is one of those on the front line of this movement. Medicine, he argues, should view aging not as a natural consequence of growing older, but as a condition in and of itself. Old age, in his view, is simply a pathology.”
Look, I’m all for people making life-style choices that may improve the QUALITY of their life, especially in later years. For example, physical activity keeps joints lubricated, reducing stiffness. Awesome. Go for walks! And, yes, some choices may also afford you some more years, overall.
That being said, what comes up for me with the aforementioned article are thoughts on how much we already take for granted in life, despite our mortality. If you’re like me, death acceptance informs how you choose to live your life. Do you stop and smell the roses? Do you live in the moment when you are with your loved ones? Just because we think we may be able to slow aging (in this case they are referring to aging as a “disease”) that doesn’t mean that we’d be invincible. Accidents happen.
I love the song If We Were Vampires by Jason Isbell that begs the question…if we were immortal what might we take for granted?
“If we were vampires and death was a joke
We’d go out on the sidewalk and smoke
And laugh at all the lovers and their plans
I wouldn’t feel the need to hold your hand
Maybe time running out is a gift.”
We live in a death-denying and death-phobic world. Death is hard. We want to turn a blind eye to it. I’ll be the first to admit I’d love to put all the people I love in a bubble. But, how would I hug them? And, would their laughs sound as sweet? What fun would there to be had, being all shut-in?
Sadly, we see aging as a curse, rather than as a rite of passage. Our elders are hidden away in facilities. They’re treated like damaged goods. Drains on society. They’re disposable. How often do you look at an elder and loathe the idea of being in their shoes? I’m guilty as charged of seeing elders and catching myself thinking things like, “I’m not looking forward to that.” It hurts to admit it. As a first-world, western society, what have we been taught of aging, other than that it’s to be dreaded?
The global anti-aging industry is expected to be a 216 billion dollar market by 2021. Grey hair? Dye it. Wrinkles? Buy a cream. Try Botox. Get a snake venom facial. Sagging skin? Get a face lift. Feeling old? Inject the blood of a younger person. It’s gotta help, right? (Spoiler…there is no clinical evidence to support the practice.)
How much of our one earthly life are we willing to spend loathing aging? How much time and money are we willing to spend concealing it? How desperately will we grasp to times of old (read times of youth.) What would it mean if we could accept the life-cycle, as is? What if we could embrace our aging, much as this couple embraces each other’s wrinkled bodies?
Check out the article and let me know your thoughts! Are you excited at the prospect of a “cure” for aging? Or, does the chase make you a little sad, too?