On Aging

author: Brad Spear

posted 27 October 2009 in Thoughts

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I was having a conversation with a friend recently, in which she made the comment, “Getting old is not all it was cracked up to be.” I totally understand the comment seeing as how I’ve passed the half-century mark myself. But then I started to wonder what aging really means.

It makes no sense for me to talk about the technical aspects of aging. The role of telemeres and antioxidants, health and environment, are all being researched by far better minds than mine.

But what does aging mean to people? We all age. From the time we’re born, we start aging. But for the first 20 or 30 years, most of us don’t consider it, we’re too busy growing.

About then the first noticeable signs that we aren’t young anymore start to show up. We can’t eat the same that we used to, or we get fat. We don’t have the stamina we had as teenagers. The lines start showing up in our faces. Our hair begins to gray and we start having more health problems.

It is well known that “clean living” and a lot of exercise can help avoid many of these issues. At 95, Jack Lalanne is a somewhat extreme anecdotal example of this, but how well would that work for the rest of us? Especially the rest of us that aren’t willing to follow his exercise regimen.

For some of us, a good gene mix allows us to avoid the worst effects of aging for longer. I’ve abused my body by being active far too little and by enjoying food far too much. And yet in my first half century I never had a broken bone, I don’t have many wrinkles, and I hope that someone out there thinks I’m still as handsome as I was 30 years ago.

I miss certain aspects of my youth: the stamina, the fitter build, the gray-free hair, the care-free attitudes about my health. In spite of that, I still feel strong, I still feel healthy. And I look forward to another 50 years.

Is that attitude available to everyone? Unfortunately, it isn’t. There are far too many people who have health problems from the time they are born, or even before. Friends suffer and even die from both genetic and non-genetic illnesses they had little control over. All I can offer is my support and wish for them the courage to face the lives they were given.

But to everyone, ill or healthy, the old adage “you’re only as young as you feel” is as true as it ever was. I still feel young and I think that has a big effect on the health of my body. And it is circular; because my body is reasonably healthy, I still feel young. One’s mental attitude toward aging is certainly not the only factor in how we live out our lives, but it is a big one.


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