You Only Truly Age When You Lose Your Curiosity
You only truly age when the shadow of despondence creeps over you and you obsess over time passing. Maybe that’s when you realize that getting older is inevitable, but aging at heart is optional, even though it’s something nobody wants to be prepared for.
But beyond just having a good attitude towards the passage of time, we all know that aging physically isn’t the most pleasant part of growing up. The years weigh down on the bones, the joints, and sometimes the soul when you have to accept the loss of a spouse or another family member. The autumn stage of the life cycle involves gathering another type of strength that you have to gradually start preparing for.
“To know how to grow old is the master work of wisdom, and one of the most difficult chapters in the great art of living.”
Helen Kivnick, social psychologist from the University of Michigan and expert in promoting healthy aging, points out that old age isn’t what it once was. We live in a society where the older generation has become a much larger percentage of the population. However, these “young old people” are very active, have a relevant role in our communities, and get the most out of this stage in life.
People often say that getting old is the masterpiece of life, and even though many do it in the best way and serve as an incredible inspiration, there are still people who refuse to accept the passage of time. In fact, many people probably don’t know this, but nothing ages you more than thinking obsessively about getting older.
The shadow of time
Susan Sontag was the United States’ voice of conscience for a long time. Writer, director, and screenwriter, she rose to popularity for a few decades with the clarity of someone who knows that they must shed light on the things that live in the shadows of a country. After her death in 2004, her son and her partner, photographer Annie Leibovitz, published a series of evocative archive images where Sontag emotionally remarked that she adored being alive.
Just like she reflected in various books, the true fear of aging arises when you realize that you aren’t living the life you really wanted. The shadow of old age appears when you’re aware that you’re not using the present wisely. Although ethologists say that every generation faces old age differently based on the social and economic context they live in, there are certain things that are always part of inharmonious and unsatisfying process of aging.
The importance of psychosocial health
In life cycle therapy, they emphasize the need to take care of your psychosocial health to guarantee a happier, more dignified aging process. This focus allows you to manage the dissatisfaction that Sontag talked about – the feeling of having wasted your youth and projecting distress onto the present. This disconnect can push you into deep isolation and depression.
Psychosocial health problems can be approached in different ways, including frustration management, impulse control, better adaptation and integration into one’s social circle, and appropriate emotional management strategies.
“Anyone who keeps the ability to see beauty never grows old.”
These strategies are more than just tools that can help old people who are suffering from isolation or emotional fragility; they’re also areas to invest in every day, no matter your age. Because after all, getting older is like scaling a mountain. Sooner or later you realize that you’re running out of strength.
However, the people who make it to the top with a clear mind and a wise heart will have a broader, freer, and more peaceful view where they can see the beauty hidden in life.
Tips to keep your heart young
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), estimates of how much the population is aging are already posing a real challenge. It’s estimated that in 2050, our planet will have about 2000 million adult people. Life expectancy is much higher than before, and therefore, one goal of the health, welfare, cultural, and services sectors is to guarantee a dignified and satisfactory aging process.
However, apart from the social services involved, dealing with the passage of time is a very personal thing. We have to face this new stage in life with the right psychological and emotional resources. Here are a few simple tips:
- Understand that the shadow of old age looms when you stop learning, when your curiosity fades and you live more in your memories than in your dreams. This isn’t the right way to handle it.
- Never open your eyes to a new day without a project to complete, a goal to achieve, or a gratifying activity to invest your time in.
- Don’t stay at home all day. Enjoy your social life, your friendships, taking walks, vacations, laughter, dancing…
Live in the moment intensely so that you forget about your body for a while – but don’t forget to take care of it, pamper it, and move at a pace it can withstand (but also to the rhythm of the music that is always present in young hearts).
Images courtesy of Des Brophy