serene ambition™

transforming the culture of aging

Age Management?

Posted by Jim Selman on 01/9/07

I recently saw a CBS 60 Minutes segment about aging. It revealed, once again, how we view age as a physical state that we can control with “anti-aging medicine”—as if various ‘fixes’ such as growth hormones, plastic surgery, erection drugs and myriad vitamin therapies will somehow put off the inevitable. I am not saying any of these medical remedies are bad. In some cases, it is neat to be able to do things at 80 that most 80-year-olds aren’t doing or haven’t ever been able to do before. Whether medical or other external ‘props’ are needed is not the real issue.

What troubles me is that we view age through the same lens that we view disease…as something bad that needs to be treated. The show also talked about ‘age management’ as a rapidly evolving field that, in one way or another, will help ‘control’ the process of aging in the interest of ‘staying young’ as long as possible or at least making the most of what can only be interpreted as a ‘less than desirable stage of life’. Some folks were even smug in their denial of old age and had consciously decided to risk shortening their lives for a few extra years of looking and feeling ‘young’.

Since the concern for age begins for most of us in our late 40s or 50s, this means that our commonly shared view as a culture and as society is that we will live roughly a third to a half of our lives in a state of decline that should be put off for as long as possible—that we need some external intervention to stay happy and healthy. This is nuts. Why don’t we look forward to getting older? If we can’t look forward to the future—at any age—then we will inevitably, in one way or another, be forced to cope with circumstances as best we can. Winning will be about comfort (rather than accomplishment), and eventually we will (if we haven’t already) become resigned that there isn’t much possibility beyond the short-term and whatever we’ve learned in the past.

I reject the whole “anti-aging” view… I say let’s create a context of “pro-aging” in which we can:

  • Take Viagra because we like sex (not because we want to stay young)…
  • Still be healthy by staying engaged in life and doing all the things we should have been doing all along having to do with exercise and diet…
  • Manage our lives like we always have and not need to worry or give a second thought to our age
  • Have ‘who we are’ become our central concern (not how old we are).

Happiness would then be a natural consequence of living life to the fullest, not some circumstantial hype based on living life in a certain way or on taking some specific medication or supplement.

Most importantly, life would be a constant dance with possibilities, a tantalizing tango of living full out everyday that ends with the last day being as rich, full and filled with potential as the first.

Let us go out the way we came in—with a slap on the ass and a celebratory scream to let everyone know we are ALIVE!

© 2007 Jim Selman. All rights reserved.

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