We live in a world obsessed with youth, a world that tries to eradicate or slow down the process of aging. When we say ‘old’, we envision gray hair, wrinkles, illnesses or death. But how often you hear a question ‘How old is the child?’ (the emphasis on old) even if it is a baby in matter? Paradoxically, we age since the day we are born. Every day we are closer to our ending and far from the beginning.
And that end is inevitable.
How do we age?
The study of aging starts with aging as a biological, chronological process. It is a starting point. But aging is not only that. Everybody ages differently. It is impossible to mark the exact point in life when it happens. Aging is not defined with changes in our body yet with the meaning given to those changes. For example, if a person over sixty lived on a deserted island, their age wouldn’t matter – no social cue would evoke it.
Ergo, society makes that number relevant and it is constructed as a problem. The society is creating a certain (mostly negative) standing towards aging and old people, and it dictates how aging should happen. But society is created by people. It shouldn’t own us. It is constantly changing, so restricting people from aging freely is pointless.
Is there ‘successful’ aging?
Many people would say there is a proper way to age, to successfully become old like there is some secret prescription for it. Of course healthy food and physical activity will benefit you, but how will your old age look like does not depend on how many veggies you eat or how many push-ups you do.
There is no right or wrong way to become old. Whether you’ll become ill or not depends on your biology, your genetic or circumstances in your life. Certainly, it won’t be the same old age of a person who survived captivity or warfare as of a person who led a peaceful and healthy life. So many factors influence your old age.
Aging is not in our control. The best way to age is to perceive our new role, to make peace with our changed identity and to put ourselves into that changed narrative so that we could age blissfully. Aging represents just a timeline of our changes and growth it’s not about being successful in it.
But is Aging really necessary?
The answer is no, it’s not.
We evolved from animals so we are in a war with nature, shaping our environment to our needs. We are a part of nature, but an upgraded nature. Nature has adapted to us, not the other way around.
In the modern world, we see old age as a medical problem to which science will find the solution. We believe science one day will be able to control human aging. Through time, medicine has found a way to deal with diseases. Technology has progressed and it’s making people without limbs walk or blind people see. So it is a question of when will it happen.
Our body decays faster than it can recover. There are researches on changing faulty genes of DNA on a molecular level with a healthy one which means it is possible to take care of our health on its source. And that means that medicine can help our body recover faster, slowing down the aging process along the way. While doing that, we might find a way to download our consciousness, our minds and find a way to irreversible cancel our death.
For now, it is just a theory. But till that happens, we are left to deal with our mortality and accept it as an inseparable piece of our lives.