You don’t have to ever grow old

You don’t have to ever grow old

Why do we get old? We don’t, it is quite literally up to me and my perception of the world, my state of consciousness. Most certainly, my body will age with time. I will physically advance in years. But the mind if I want will stay young, curious, and vibrant. For the youth of today, there will be no old age in the traditional sense. The conventional idea is that you are slowly worn out by work, like an old machine, you retire, have some fleeting moments of joy, and you die. Potentially, for the post-Millennials, due to modern medical advances, there will only be life and more life. This is the ideal, unfortunately. 

What happens is that we are pre-programmed to mentally age. We first experience a form of ageism (1) when we are adolescents, many times still pubescent. We are criticized for being young, perhaps we have made some error in our school or housework, and we are told to, “grow up.” This then dramatically introduces us to the concept of bodily time and how we fit into it: I will mature, I will get old and I will eventuality die. The built-in obsolescence of most products further concertizes this concept. This can produce pure angst in some young people. “I don’t want to get old,” is a common refrain. (2) Old will be but a blight on my life. 

This is pure nonsense to anyone who has lived a full life. (3) I know no one who has lived an interesting and dynamic existence who has ever claimed that they wanted to return to a time of physical youth — no one. They were all happy that they had had the opportunity to be alive. So then comes the question: how do I insulate myself from the vagaries of life and keep my mind youthful? Many instances, of course, only reinforce this concept of age — especially with regards to my being, the aches and pains that come to pass because of the kilometers of life that the body, figuratively, has driven.

The only solution to this conundrum, in my estimation, is through me. I must put myself in a situation where I am continuously bombarded by new thoughts, new ideas, and new challenges. Where are these opportunities? They are everywhere, but I must search them out. The first rule of all is to never retire. This idea has continued to dominate. The simple query is that if you are truly enjoying your career, why would you want to stop? This is a concept that was introduced into Western thought by Bismark in Germany in 1883. (4) It was designed to remove the revolutionaries from the workplace and replace them with stronger, more malleable young people. The next is to keep a notebook and fully document the machinations of life. Finally, the most important of all, be a mentor to younger people: teach at a school, a church, or a university. Present yourself to the younger generation. You have a lot to give and they are waiting to accept. Young minds are filled with exciting new ideas: not all mature and well-thought-out but still fresh and energetic.  

To not grow old, therefore, is simply a choice — make the right one for you and your life. The great author and educator, Louise May Alcott, (5) leaves us with a thought: Have regular hours for work and play; make each day both useful and pleasant, and prove that you understand the worth of time by employing it well. Then youth will be delightful, old age will bring few regrets, and life will become a beautiful success.

A closing thought: I have a friend who still drives a car, has a girlfriend, reads copious amounts of books, and is a better historian than I am — and I am pretty good. At 91, he is my model of an aged person. This is in comparison to the broken individuals that we pass by on the streets or the dissolute celebrities we read about. He is my estimation of a gentleman and scholar — an individual skilled in passing on his lessons of life to his grandchildren, students and many friends. He simply knows what his mission is.  

To sum up: This week we spoke about getting old and how to philosophically reflect on the process.

To be noted: Plan your life as if you will live forever, and live your life like you will die today. 

Just for fun: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1JYjcwW9MmM 

For reflection: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8AeZbgfEgO4&ab_channel=CaughtInProvidence 

This week, on your spirited walk, please feel your body and delight in its continuity.

Every day look for something magical and beautiful.

Don’t be a wage slave – critical thinking is great! 

Quote: Age is only in the mind. 

Footnotes: 

1) How Does Ageism Impact More Than Just Older Adults?

2) Lukas Graham – 7 Years [Official Music Video]

3) 101 Ways To Live Your Life To The Fullest

4) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_retirement 

5) Louisa May Alcott

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