Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Aging: Leveling Up or Numerical Slavery?

by John Boodhansingh of Zero Mindfulness

I’ve been lingering on this post for a few weeks now. Minus some tweaking, I’ve generally been satisfied with the main text. But the intro and conclusion just weren’t working in my favor.

Ironically, then, in the midst of this writing came my birthday, and for my birthday someone had sent me a card that on the front says, “You’re a good example of what happens when people eat right, exercise, and really take care of themselves,” only to be followed up inside with, “They get old anyway.”

Ha. Funny. Well-timed, too. Because it’s become key to the intro and conclusion I’d been looking for. Thank you.

By all means, I found the card to be humorous, and I’m grateful for having received it. Nonetheless, as I’d already begun writing about in the body of this text, the mentality implied by the card, culturally-prevalent though it is, isn’t exactly true; “isn’t exactly” meaning that I see a very big difference between “aging” and “getting old”: All “aging” means, at least to me, is an extension of lifespan, whereas “getting old” is far more suggestive of degeneration.

Yes, in life as we know it the physical body changes throughout the aging process. Yet there are a plethora of accounts of both individuals and whole societies who “eat right, exercise, and really taken care of themselves” and although they’ve aged they’ve never “gotten old”—they go to their graves happy, healthy, and mentally sharp.

This writing is meant to help people see just this point and to bring awareness of certain lines of thinking that cause so many people to “get old” rather than age gracefully.

For many folks, it starts evidently at “the beginning of the end”:

40: “Over the Hill” Bummin’

To those who’ve hit 40 and are bummed, I’d like to offer you some upliftment:

Going by averages, there was a time when at 40 years old you were reasonably likely to already be dead, or nearly so. Nowadays, you’re less than halfway.

Which, yeah, I suppose this still may seem depressing if your life outlook suggests that ages 40 and up are consumed primarily by excess weight, wrinkles, debt, physical and mental degeneration, and copious Big Pharma prescriptions.

What I’d like you to see here is that this view of the future will generally only become your future to the degree that you allow it. Some things may be guaranteed, but their extent is likely not. And for sure, you don’t have to live your life as one of the now-rampant walking dead.

What, really, is 40? It’s just another day. The only thing that makes it a predicament, as many people accept being “over the hill” to be, is the mentality about it.

Because, truth is, lifespan is not a given. There are about 34,000 life-related span factors (diet, pollution, etc.) and we don’t know what fate has in store for us. Some people die at birth and some people die at 115 years old. It thus makes no sense to don slumped shoulders and a depressive attitude at a time that’s far more of an arbitrary numerical label than a milestone of suddenly onsetting incapacity.

It may be valid that around 40 years of age the body generally makes some less-than-“youthening” physiological shifts. But to worry and condemn one’s self about it necessarily accelerates, if not actually manifests, any potential, if otherwise improbable, breakdown. Furthermore, this age marker implies nothing about one’s future quality of life, particularly for those who live and treat themselves well.

For example (if I recall correctly), in the book The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat and Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet by Nina Teicholz, there is the mention of a small place in the Mediterranean-area where nearly all people are full of life and regularly have sex well into their 80’s and 90’s. Contrast this to the US with its approximately 120 million men, 30 million—or a full 1/4—of which have erectile dysfunction (ED)—plenty of them being under age 40!

Or consider the late Olga Kotelko. I really don’t know how she was feeling around age 40, but it seems she’d lived her pre-retirement life as more or less average as anyone else. Post-retirement, however, she decided to take up track and field… and blasted out more than 30 world records and 750 gold medals in her age category. I don’t know, maybe into her 90’s she’d only had 2 other competitors, but to compete as she had is practically unheard of.

The Mid-Life Crisis

All dissatisfaction results from imbalanced thinking and repressed emotional content.

This lingers, and worsens, for decades. Then around age 40 (perhaps at this time due to our programming that 40 is the onset of “the end”) there comes for many a mental notice of having neither accomplished nor self-realized anything truly internally satisfying. Compounding the discomfort of the age-equals-decay mentality, feelings of emptiness and regret arise, or at least intensify.

One well-known manifestation of this middle-age dissatisfaction is what’s been termed a “mid-life crisis.” In one sentence, we might define this as, “the climax of an increasing sense of internal meaninglessness, the resolution of which is typically sought in the external indulgence of spending gobs of cash on a ‘dream’ item.”

To elaborate:

We’re taught from Day 1 that feeling our feelings is weak, that putting attention on ourselves is selfish, that expressing ourselves creatively and spontaneously is childish. So we abandon our true needs and repress our true feelings, and we thus come to utterly devalue our inherent worth. We become conditioned to believe that our increasingly ubiquitous inner void can be satiated by external doings and gettings. And since we simultaneously learn to equate self-worth with financial and material worth, we come to believe that the bigger/better/stronger/faster/hotter/cooler/etc. we and our bank account and possessions are, the greater our personal value.

In practice this theory never ends up working, for anyone, ever, but we try and try and try again, harder and harder each time. We’re unhappy, so we go shopping. We feel worthless, so we go to the casino. We feel lacking in love, so we stuff our faces with food. And with each one we get a little less happy, a little poorer, and a little fatter. Which causes us to feel even more unhappy, worthless, and loveless. But we’d best not feel, and so we up the ante just a hair further.

Unfortunately, this stuffing down with immense repressive pressure doesn’t quite make diamonds of the rock of discomfort sitting within us. In this psycho-emotional condition, it’s almost unquestionable that by middle age we’ve already taken on any of a variety of diseases, addictions, and disorders as both coping mechanisms and symptoms of deeper rot. No matter, the answer is surely out there…

“If only I get the right thing. If I just spend enough money. If only I get the car I’ve always wanted… If only I splurge and get the Ferrari and show it off to all my friends and neighbors and they give me attention as I polish it every Saturday afternoon in my driveway… Then I’ll feel satisfied.”

And so that’s what people do, each respective of his or her income and level of insanity: They splurge and get the Ferrari and show it off and polish it every weekend… For approximately two weekends, after which (+ or – two weekends) they feel empty again.

Common though it may be, having a mid-life crisis is a sign of mental, emotional, and spiritual imbalance and is a crisis of self-identity.

[Aside: In this patriarchal society—one dominated by masculine energies and suppressive of the feminine—many purchases throughout life, at least for males, are personified as “her” and “she.” This is a subconscious pining for the deficient motherly love, affection, warmth, tactile interaction, etc. of childhood. As a man’s female partner becomes a mirror of his mother, so does his car, boat, or circular saw become a mother-substitute meant to satisfy his unsettled inner child and ease the repressed pain of his feminine self-aspects such as emotional freedom.]

Age Adversely Affects All Ages

As I’ve been alluding to, this trouble humanity has with aging is not solely the problem of mid-lifers.

Hitting 40 years of age and thinking there’s suddenly some age-related curse to worry about is as bad as hitting any other birthday or holiday and wallowing in one’s misery about the same. “Oh, God, I’m [insert unfortunate age here]. I should be further in life. I should have a girlfriend. I should have a house. Blah, blah, blah.”

Consider some peoples’ Valentine’s Day mentality: While a great many people are lavishing their significant others with love, dinner, and grossly-overpriced Hallmark cards, there are plenty of others who don’t have a date and get depressed and self-pitying about it.

But what is “Valentine’s Day” other than a label on a period of hours between two sleep segments? For one thing, people shouldn’t need a national holiday to remind them that they’re supposed to love the ones they claim to love. Secondly, why don’t those without dates get wildly depressed three weeks before Valentine’s Day, or maybe five months after? There are countless other couples loving, dining, and getting it on right then, too, so what makes this one singular day any more important?

A goofy bit of cultural indoctrination. That’s it. Yet these goofy bits of cultural indoctrination can get people so depressed that they haven’t done more, been more, seen more, or whatevered more.

Oddly, however, it doesn’t seem to occur to people that if they can’t do, be, see, or whatever, if something is holding them back, then they need to actively clean up their inner wasteland. They instead get caught up in the "poor me" trap of the savior/victim mentality: that accomplishment and life satisfaction will either never arrive because they’re too unworthy, or it will magically arrive with their mere “effort” of aging or if they only wallow long enough.

Maybe it’s time to try doing something different…?

We’re Better than We Think—Even When We’re Really Screwed Up.

I just turned 33. My life has been flatter than a 10-year-old soda, opened and in the summer heat. Or maybe it’s been more like a desert hardpan that’s drier than death and has its sudden drops where all the many cracks open up. In either case...

If my life hadn’t taken an unexpected turn for the positively unimaginable, I’m pretty sure that by the time I’d have hit 40 I’d be 100% invested in the Man-I-hate-myself-I’m-40-now-fucking-ancient-and-have-done-nothing-and-feel-empty mentality that plenty of others are (or something like it, more or less consciously). Similar can be said of other birthdays and holidays as well, as this has been something that had pulled me down regularly throughout my life.

Yes, some part of me had always maintained hope. But hope’s for dopes when we make no effort toward improvement. Which I didn’t, because in my tiny, little world, I’d lacked any sense that I could actively get better. I’d simply had too much internal sludge distorting my self-perception.

What I now realize but no one had ever told me (with true understanding) back then or helped me to truly see is:

There is nothing fundamentally wrong with me.

Instead, there’s something wrong with how I’ve been taught to think, with how I process information and emotions, and it stems back to my childhood.

And guess what else?

There’s nothing fundamentally wrong with you, either.

If your life is flat and/or you’re aged between, say, 6 and 106 and you feel like you’re wasting and empty (whatever that means for you, a little or a lot), do yourself the favor of checking out the near-infinite self-help, spirituality, and psychology videos on YouTube, pick up a few such books, or go see a healer of some kind. Or all three. Work with someone who can help you access your unkind past that you don’t remember, or don’t like to, and process it out.

Your unhealed past is the very reason your life feels empty, like it keeps going nowhere, backwards, or in circles. You’re not inherently ugly or sinful or damned or a waste of life or a loser or untalented or anything like that. You have a dense internal darkness blotting out your light.

And take heed, some of you, because I know you may read this and try to justify that how you’re going about is okay when somewhere inside you know it’s not. “But I travel here, and I do this with my kids and husband, and I have this nice house and a solid job…”

How do you feel?

Deep down, when all else is set aside, when you go to bed at night and in the dark you think those private thoughts just before falling asleep that you wouldn’t dare speak openly in the light, how do you feel?

There’s no doubt in my mind that there’s a disheartening plentitude of people out there who beautifully satisfy the status quo yet still wake up every morning, still go to bed every night, and still live nearly every moment of their life in between wishing they’d felt satisfied and good enough; wishing they didn’t have that nagging inner void that nothing in the external world ever seems capable of satiating.

And truth is, we would all do well to see a healer because we’ve all got issues related to distorted thinking and repressed emotions. Our culture has done its best to make it look like only “retards” need such help and that the average person should be ashamed to do so, but we’re all in desperate need—even more so if we believe we don’t need help or “can’t” be helped.

Consider it an option. You won’t likely find one better.

Age Blame

The final concern I want to bring up is blaming age for personal stubbornness, carelessness, etc.

I’ve heard too many people of all ages say things like, “The doctor told me that I’m going to have/get [insert lousy physical future here],” and, “It’s supposed to be this way.” And they accept these things as truth, without question or effort to prove otherwise, because they’re coming from “authority,” are the norm, support “who I am” programming, or something stupid like that. Or maybe they say things such as, “The doctor told me to stop [this harmful behavior] because it’s negatively affecting my [physical ailments].” And then they continue right on with their self-destructive practices.

In cases like the above, people choose not to help themselves, not to take care of themselves, not to question, and thus kick-start or accelerate their degradation. It’s not age that hurts them, then, but poor diet, lack of exercise and adequate rest, and so on—the adverse consequences of which they insistently blame on age.

But do you know what sucks about this path? It’s the path of a likely slow and painful demise.

Level Up. Don’t Be a Numerical Slave.

Contrary to what’s been generally accepted, it is possible to age without “getting old.” Because “what happens when people eat right, exercise, and really take care of themselves” is that they thrive.

If we’re not doing this, then the first question to ask is, Why not?—a question we can immediately follow up with, How am I hurting/inhibiting myself?

Thriving doesn’t hurt, but mere survival and even self-destructive and self-diminishing behaviors do—and there are a lot of people (unconsciously) involved in a lot of the latter.

So we have to look within and do our best to work through our issues. With this healing we cease being slaves to falsely-conceived age depictions of our present and future and instead “level up” into longer and far more satisfying and fulfilling lives.

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