Thursday, June 20, 2013

Living with aging

In our society we are obsessed with thwarting death, with staying young for as long as possible. We cover up our grey hair, have our skin surgically stretched to remove wrinkles, receive injections to make us look plump where we used to, get hair implant therapy if our hair is thinning, use every sort of imaginable cream for every part of our body to " reduce the signs of aging" and have surgery to add something to our parts which may have shrunk or are sagging and other surgeries to thin parts that have gotten bigger then they used to be. So many women that I see at the beach are cosmetically enhanced. The skin on their legs is clearly many decades older then the buoyancy of their breasts. Why have an aging body when you can buy yourself a younger looking one?
It is simply consumerism taken to the next level. We are making idols out of our own bodies, sort of a combination of Frankenstein's monster and Baal worship.
You probably think I'm being too extreme. Why not have a "beautiful" body if you can afford one?

I have been living at my grandmother 's house for the past couple of months. She celebrated her 93rd birthday last month. Being around her has made me think about my own mortality more then I ever have before. She was once a baby like my little Allen. She had a mother who held her and cuddled her close, who felt about her the way I do about my little ones. Being with her reminds me that life here on earth is finite. It begins and it ends. It is an uncomfortable and unsettling reality. It is also exactly what all this culture of anti-aging is designed to help us avoid. The reality of aging and death. You might be a cosmetically created masterpiece of a corpse but you will still be dead. If we are preoccupied with our physical bodies we will come to death unprepared for the most important journey of of lives. Seeing the physical signs of aging reminds us that life is continuing on, that it is passing. Being with my grandma and seeing the changes that time has wrought on her physical form reminds me that one day I too will grow old. Will I spend my life trying to pretend that it won't happen or will I remember to treasure in my heart the greater reality that this world is not my home?