How to Stay Young (Longer)
A Denial or Not
In a little more than three months I will turn 74. Before you start feeling sorry for me ---please don't, and if you stay with me for the rest of the article, you are bound to find out why. You see, while the most of those of my age are busy refreshing their celestial connections, so that their name doesn't end up on the list of that very hot place down there---my only concern for the years to come is how to respond to accusations about my "living in a denial".
For, here I am with this peculiar and shameless attitude about aging that will make some of you call me a "dreamer", if not some other names from your mocking vocabulary. Watch out folks, it's that very attitude that has caused at least one of those lines on your beautiful face!
As for me, I don't care what I am called, and as you maybe have guessed---with such an attitude I am smoothening some of these lines on my own face.
Brain and Skin - Old Pals
Before you start slapping me with that old-dated biology book in a protest to my "smoothening wrinkles" as something impossible, let me remind you that the process is only opposite from those cases where some folks turned grey and wrinkled overnight under some enormous emotional trauma.
Never heard of such cases? Well, now you have. Indeed, our body is incredibly responsive to our emotional states, and in a support to this statement, let me remind you how those first tissues in human embryo to start developing are the ones of brain and skin.
Even in embryo they like keeping each other company until the other body parts show up. Well, let's you and I chat a little about this getting old business, and I hope to make some new friends in the process, if my ideas happen to be any contagious at all.
What We Believe Shows on Us
First of all, we have been subjected to certain negative and misleading "facts of life" for the most of our years so far. Even as toddlers, we probably noticed that grandma's face didn't look as smooth as mommy's, and maybe wondered why. Being very impressionable as kids, maybe already then we didn't like the passage of the time.
Except that growing up was at least promising us a time when no one would tell us anymore to brush our teeth; and besides, looking taller was a kind of cool. Not for long, baby. So, for all those many years we got to witness how folks had to look at a certain chronological age.
If I haven't told you yet that our bodies are just as suggestible as our minds, now is the right time. Indeed, our cellular intelligence is closely watching our beliefs and setting their level of vitality accordingly, as well as our biological clock.
Hey, I didn't make it up, I found it in some smart books written by those fine medical scientists who surely know more than our grandma who told us long time ago : "Well, honey, we all have to grow old". And so we did.
For, who would want to make our sweet grandma wrong, after all those candies that she secretly handed to us when mom was not watching?
Those Rejuvenating Memories
At the mention of those smart scientists, an experiment came to mind. I must have mentioned it in an earlier article, but you don't mind if an old-timer repeats himself, that's what we do quite often at this age, you know.
Just kidding, look, my memory is so good that I remember using the experiment before in an article, so I am safe there. O.K., it was about a bunch of old-timers, those over 80 who were to spend a few weeks at a special place decorated to remind them of their young years; to listen to music of their young age; to dress up in those clothes of their young age, and generally revive that ambient and times of their youth.
Also, they were instructed not to even once mention their current health conditions and complaints to one another, but only reminisce about those "good, old times of youth". At the end of the experiment, the scientists were astounded with the results.
Namely, most of the parameters of vitality showed an incredible improvement in all of those involved in the experiment. Well, anybody starting to view the facts about aging a little differently?
Worries and Aging
There are quite a few of those crucial factors affecting the rate of aging, and I don't have the space available to elaborate on all of them, so let me skip nutrition and life style as those most notable and get to the one of chronical stress levels.
Indeed, layer upon layer of stressful experiences accumulated over so many years---most of them self-inflicted---will certainly do a number on our vitality and our looks. Due to a poor stress management, those bad incidents in life just keep piling up in our memory bank as an embarrassing deposit.
I say "embarrassing", because look at us---after all that worry here we are still in one piece, proving all those worries senseless, useless, and downright crazy.
Genes Reflecting Our Hearts' Beliefs
When I look in the mirror, I don't really see those "shorter telomeres in my cells", but what actually made them shorter---the sum total of my overreacting to life situations. O.K., I may have some excuses there, like a lousy childhood, growing up in a communist society (not Russia), army service, two emigrations, while having to learn a new language---so that eventually I could share with you these views about aging today.
I am sure you have your own impressive bunch of valid excuses. But wait---hardships or not, people are still giving me ten or more years less than my chronological age. Forget about my "good genes", it has been proven that we are overriding our genetic predisposition with our belief system, attitude, and emotional climate that we are maintaining. (Epigenetics!) So, sit back, "grasshopper", and put yourself into my rosy disposition to learn a thing or two about aging.
No Doctors and Pills for Me
While I can't give you a recipe for turning your biological clock backwards, or an elixir of youth to take three times a day after meals, at least I'll try to impress you with this fact that I am not crying on your shoulder about getting close to my 74th birthday. Not me.
Actually, I am somewhat reluctant to brag about it while taking a risk of being called a liar, but what the heck---I already said that I didn't care what I was called, so here it is : I haven't seen a doctor for some dozen of years, haven't taken any medication, including painkillers, antacids, or preparation-H, all of which are "normal" companions at this age. I hope I don't have to mention not having taken any tranquilizers or antidepressants either. Oh, I almost forgot to include the little blue pill in the above assortment of the "old-age-pills".
Was Youth really All that Great?
Now, let's see about that "wonderful time of youth", so much mentioned in poetry about time passage, and "all good things that are gone forever". Remember those lo-o-o-ng hours at work, year after year?
Or, how about that boss or co-worker that you hated with passion? What about all those weekends that passed in doing chores, having mother-in-law over for dinner, or going to parties that made you happy to come home afterwards?
How many Mondays you would have given anything to be able to sleep in--- something that you can do now? What about raising kids, including anything from changing diapers to arguing with them---in those times when you were not too busy "loving them dearly", as you prefer remembering it these days?
Are you sure those were the "best times of your life"? Let me give you some news, actually borrowed from one of my previous paragraphs---our minds and bodies were just displaying a level of energy by "acting appropriately to that chronological age". And now we think it's "appropriate" to feel and look old. Well, nobody can deny that we are a very smart specie.
Can't Enjoy what We Have
Believe it or not, but there is not much difference between feeling stuck at a job or feeling stuck at an old age. It's our choice how we want to experience it. I am telling you, folks, when we make an honest inventory of what those young years consisted of, being at this age may even turn out to be a blessing.
You may want to add another factor there, having to do with something that's so natural for humans---we are never satisfied. I personally know quite a few of those folks who were pissed off at life when money was pouring, and are still pissed off while its dripping.
We always seek something different, with a pathetically low capacity to enjoy what we have.
Let's Make Ourselves Happy
Another problem is related to the just mentioned one---for the most of our life we were expecting others to please us and to "make us happy", while never realizing that no one could possibly give us something that we refused to give to ourselves, like love, appreciation, attention, and respect.
So now, at this older age we are still fishing for signals from others that they might be willing to give us some of it. Our spouses don't see us attractive anymore--- maybe because we got grouchy, not so much because we are physically worn out. Beauty is skin deep, folks.
Our friends are all about illnesses and politics, so that even their compliments sound sour, said through that sour smile calibrated by all those doctors, medications, poor self-image, and lousy politics. Come on, folks, detach yourselves emotionally from such lousy donors of happiness, and give yourselves that gift of love that you owe to yourself, maybe for too long.
All of Our Own Make
So now you know it---we are making ourselves sick and old by making our immune system weak with a constant bombardment of negativities, and by unconscious conviction, or call it a verdict, that we are supposed to feel and look appropriately to our chronological age.
Then we become poets about the "passing youth", inspiring the younger generation and warning them not to have audacity to expect anything better than we've got. Or, at least most of us do it, myself still being a rebel defying all those "facts of life", something that I have been trying to make obvious about myself all along.
I can't see myself as a senile and fragile dude. I much prefer getting inspired by those in their eighties climbing mountains, parachuting, painting, joking, having sex, gliding, even fishing. Not that there are so many of them around, I must admit.
However, you can still at least hear or read about such rare specimens of old-timers who don't really give a rat's ass about who is to become the new occupant in the White House, what are terrorists up to, and why that neighbor does nothing about his dog crapping on the sidewalk.
We Can Make It Better - if Not Fabulous
I hope I gave you some kind of a subliminal warning at the very start that I was not very believable when it's about aging, and it would take an effort of objectivity to see something valuable in this article. You see, most of the folks don't take you seriously as soon as you dare to dump everything on their lap as their responsibility.
And yet, let me add this one to the bouquet of my other illusions---maybe some of you may re-think about your old-age condition, and find enough spirit in you to decide not to give in to the years of your age.
No one can tell you what it is exactly that you should address---you are the only one knowing your intimate life, and only you are called upon to correct something there. Well, why not? What else is so important in your daily schedule that you wouldn't find time for it? Life is a fascinating journey, and we are still far from arriving.