In this mid-winter shopping season, with its Black Fridays and Cyber Mondays and their ilk going right through till Boxing Day, and beyond into January Sales, many's the message from advertisers about what will best keep our physiological furnaces at high heat and our bodies looking sprightly. We are sure to be encouraged to reflect on how we measure up against the new norms for aging vigorously; the standards set by Sir Richard Branson and other hard-charging late-life high achievers.
Those folk really do seem to have cracked the code for 'aging-with-vigour'. Some of you readers may remember the time when just 'aging-with-grace' was considered admirable? We older folk were expected to try to keep our lips in a smile and our grousing to our peers. Folk might tell us they could see our motor was running down but we should know that is just the way things have always been. A discrete visit to a home medical equipment store might be in order, but no need to draw attention to our aches and pains. Just suffer in silence.
Nowadays we have Sixty is the New Forty in which there is no justification for behaving like the aged of times past. Cars now last longer if serviced regularly, and so should we. Pilates and hot yoga, orienteering, daily swims and workouts in the gym, spinning, and botox when needed, are all part of the new deal on saving our bodies from the curses of our years.
The problem I have with all this is my body, which seems to get creakier by the month whether I buy some of these services or not. Some sort of genetic biological clock is ticking away in me to drive my physiology to malfunction in new ways. As drugs often exist today to prevent at least some of this deterioration from actually doing me in, I'm probably going to stay a bit longer on this planet than those before me. But neither government medicine nor today's privately-delivered healthiness enhancements can make me feel again like I did in my forties. At best they are going to make the process of my dying more prolonged, and my death itself happen somewhat later than of old.
This outcome has recently been christened 'Dying After Your Time'. In the extra years today's gungho technology can buy us before we croak do we get any wiser? Does our life become fuller? To my mind there's little chance for that when hearing is poor, knees ache much of the time, eyesight demands large print books, and memory plays tricks. When one can't read the keys on a cellphone to transmit whatever pearls of insight come with advanced years, it is probably high time to hit the trail!