Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Anti-aging Racket

Letter to The Globe and Mail, January 14, 2009, in reaction to an article on aging. Published.

We want our wine to age, but whine when we age (The quest for the test tube of youth, Jan 10). We describe this futile quest by that anti-human, insulting word "anti-aging." This makes us prey to every faker, charlatan and snake oil salesman on the planet. Aging is not a disease.

The film of each life ends. That's all folks. The Book of Life has no sequel, not even a second edition. The quest for long life begins in youth by the proper care of the body. The only effect an elixir, nectar, ambrosia or potion will have is to decrease one's estate.

Rather than waste energy putting on the trappings of the young, a better option is to make the most of every day (and night) "before we too into the dust descend" when the world will hear "no more talk of thee and me." The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam offers an inspiring place to begin.

Letter to the Toronto Star. Unpublished.

Re Facing end of road the hardest part of living, Nov. 15

Pardon me if I detect a dab of condescension in Judy Steed's comments on aging. If Ms. Steed be "haunted by the eyes of old people," and "touched by their courage in growing old, in revealing their vulnerability," then she has not looked into my eyes or the eyes of other septuagenarians, octogenarians and nonagenarians whom I know. Yes, some people our age have shut down their life's horizon. That's a personal decision. It is not for others to judge, or even comment on.

Hardly is it "the bravest thing to continue to live." Its acceptance acknowledges that the parade of life one day will move on without us. And we move elsewhere. Frankly, that's not a bad idea. All required is a sense of maturity, a maturity younger people do not have, and will not understand until the sand of their hourglass has shifted into life's lower chamber. "At my age, I don't even buy green bananas," jokes a truly mature person.

Yes, older people sometimes become dependent on others. We are always dependent on someone, only in different ways at the different stages of life.

Those truly fearing time's passing may find solace in The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. Among other things, this 12th century Persian advised:

So when at last the Angel of the Drink
Of Darkness finds you by the river-brink,
And, offering his Cup, invites your Soul
Forth to your Lips to quaff it --- do not shrink

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