November 15, 2010

Combat Aging! This is Really Amazing!

Dharma Mondays is Shy Sayar’s blog on Elephant Journal

Seriously, people? Combat aging? I can’t believe how frequently this absurdism is thrown around. Has no one read Don Quixote? If ever there was more ridiculous and futile a campaign than battling windmills, it must be our modern battle cry to “combat aging”. Just think about it for a second. There, the second is gone, and you’ve aged. F$#k. As my sister-in-law used to say, aging sucks but it sure beats the alternative.

Actually, I thoroughly disagree with that last adage. First of all, I have absolutely no evidence that it beats the alternative. Who knows? Maybe the alternative is way better? (cf. We Are All Going to Die)

Moreover, I don’t know about you, but aging has so far decidedly failed to suck for me. In fact – and I know I’m not the only one who feels this way – every year of my life has been better than the that one it followed. This has been not so much because conditions have improved, or due to increasing good fortune. You see, while (at the tender age of 30) I have surely begun to experience the decline of the physical form – and even of certain mental functions – my steadily increasing joy in life has been a result of learning how to better use my body and mind, every single year. You can buy the most beautiful and incredible new Macbook Pro, but if you don’t know how to use it to its full capacity, you might as well get a used Dell Netbook and save yourself the useless added expense.

Look, I don’t mean to sound snarky, let alone condescending; I understand that when people say “combat aging” they mean doing what we can to slow down the effects of aging on our appearance and faculties. Fair enough. But if it is true that the main cause of our weakening and falling prey more easily to disease is stress, combating anything sounds like the worst possible idea. Have you ever heard anyone say: “ah, the most relaxed I ever get is during combat”? It seems to me that a much more effective and intelligent way to go about it is to devote ourselves to studying our physical and mental resources and how to best use them. For that purpose, yoga beats L’oreal and Atkins any day.

So I say let go of the cosmetics, the smoke and mirrors, the amazing new products and the fad diets. Stop counting calories, proteins, carbs and what-have-you. Eat all-natural food that you enjoy until full but not stuffed. Give your body a few hours to digest after a meal without snacking. Move your spine and joints in all directions and as much as possible without strain every day. Study your body and mind. Enjoy life, love your body and wish well unto all beings. Die peacefully without regrets. Repeat.

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