I have a bad attitude to ageing. In fact I really don’t know how to go about it. In my work I’ve observed that certain physical, energy and mental changes take place. Those changes vary with climate, genetics, family culture and the degree of self care undertaken in your life.
The problem is not that you can’t anticipate how you will age, you can, but you can’t anticipate the misadventures, accidents and stresses you will experience or their effect on you as you get older. I met a woman in my travels, an American woman about 50 who had big hair, really big hair and a pretty decent set of shoulder pads and Harry-high-pants flared jeans and platform wedges. She was a living homage to the 70’s. So whatever had happened to this woman she remained in the persona of her younger self. She looked strange but was very healthy.
There has been some studies of elderly patients who when put into an environment totally reflecting their younger era, the music, the furniture, even the use of language, start to show physical, emotional and mental improvements. Their grip strength increased, knee pain lessened, they were happier. They de-aged.
Now don’t get me wrong I’m not advocating a retro return to the fashions of your younger selfs, god forbid, though in saying that fashion and music all seems to recycle. But in this day and age we are so much more free to wear what suits us, is comfortable or appropriate to our situation. I take exception with shoulder pads though, I’m just not going to honour Dallas/American football chic.
A few nights ago I was walking back from the Chinese New Year parade in the city and I passed a gaggle of young girls all wearing thongs and coloured runners standing outside a shoe shop, they were squealing with delight, “Oh my god, I so want those.” said one plump beauty drooling over a pair of vertiginous heels with silver studs. Mind you she was wearing flats and was at ease. While only a few minutes before an older skinnier version of her actually was hobbling clinging to her male companion down the steps to the railway station. The long term effect of heels? Well they are more than implicated in the onset of arthritis, back problems, neck pain and it only gets worse the more you wear them but of course some people adapt and then can’t wear flats.
As you age you can become more acidic and this predisposes you to tiredness, illnesses and ennui. The counter action, drink more water and eat more vegetables.
As you age your muscles can get weaker mainly due to mis and under use. So exercise more and do weight bearing exercises.
Over time your body can stiffen as your joint oils thicken. Well a good warm up daily, stretches, fish and fish oil, krill, vitamin e vitamin d all help to maintain joint integrity.
You know all this I’ll warrant and maybe you already act on most of these, ever so sensible, actions but the real essence of anti-ageing is how you relate to yourself. I know a ute full of men who though they have aged don’t seem to have noticed. They still wear the big tee shirts, of their youth and only relate to the songs of their adonis-selves-age. They cruise through their days ignoring their signs and symptoms of ageing and imbalance until a crisis erupts. Then they become really bad patients, just wanting a quick fix, a pill, an op. Opening the way for quick fix snake oil merchants and baby-boomer anti-aging products and regimes.
Ultimately there ain’t no quick fix to aging. As you get closer to death life becomes more precious, each breath worth taking. It’s not the reverence of the crone for her once was maiden self I’m advocating. What I’d like to see is a balanced response to life’s curve balls. I’d like to see you developing a considered life.
I’d like you to teach your children that effort, self care applied to youthful bodies pays dividends in older years. How do you get a child to understand age? So here I am older, watching the crazy enthusiasms of youth, the hormonal breeding rush of the middle years and the attempts at second winds of your later middle age and I put on a piece of music, loud, and dip into its rhythm and forget who I am and let the gods listen through my ears. I have no idea how to age well. Yes anti inflammatory herbs, foods, supplements help, yoga helps, fun helps, a good laugh helps but what helps most of all is just allowing the experience of life to be whatever it is and cultivating your ability to care for yourself and cultivating your mind to ask the right questions. An unexamined emotion or belief leads to its over expression or repression and there in lies the way to illness.
You are an amazing being, each breath is a gift. Breathe but don’t hyperventilate, breathe evenly, breath in, wait, breath out, wait. You will find more answers in the space between your breaths than in the act of breathing. As you become older you can consider such things without the mad rush of adrenalin, or the cascade of hormones skewing your beliefs and thoughts. Getting older is bound up with the getting of wisdom and less energy to waste on anger, blame and judgement and that is its greatest blessing…