Scott Regen on “The Downside of Anti Aging”
Scott Regen is alive and well and living in Florida. After a long and fruitful career in broadcasting, the record business and journalism, The Head Burger now writes occasional Op Eds for the Orlando Sentinel, teaches meditation and enjoys his grandchildren. His wisdom fits well in this space, where we celebrate the soundtrack of our young lives, while fully facing the adventures ahead.
Written on August 24, 2011 –
This past Sunday was National Senior Citizens Day. It seems like a good time to reflect on the value our culture places on — youth.
I recently overheard a small boy with his family in a restaurant. An adult asked how old he was. He responded that he was 4.
He was next asked, “When will you be 5?” Everyone laughed when he answered, “When I’m done being 4.”
Unknowingly, he echoed former Harvard professor Richard Alpert (Ram Dass) and his 1971 book, “Be Here Now.” And Eckhart Tolle’s 1997 New York Times best-seller, “The Power of Now. Oprah Winfrey brought Tolle’s book to our awareness, as well as “A Course in Miracles,” which Tolle quotes.
All three books advise: We can’t be 5 when we’re 4, 40 when we’re 50, or 50 when we’re 60. We can only be who we are — now.
So the downside of anti-aging is, first: It’s impossible. Second: It guarantees a psychological denial of all we’ve been and done. Third: It denies who we are now.Perhaps it’s a lighter form of anti-aging — hair coloring. Or a harsher form — plastic surgery. Either way, it affirms being or looking younger is better than being or looking older. And because we’re older, we’re somehow not good enough, and must try to look younger.
Why do we do it? Psychiatrist Carl Jung wrote: “The birth of a human being is pregnant with meaning, why not death? For twenty years and more the growing man is being prepared for the complete unfolding of his individual nature, why should not the older man prepare himself twenty years and more for his death?”
Jung interprets our anti-aging masquerades: We’ve become a youth-obsessed culture and, of consequence, a death-fearing culture.
Even the young are handcuffed to the double bind, for they, too, will age.
Why have we bought into the competitiveness of being younger? What are we trying to prove and to whom? Why have we become so outer-approval focused? For whose approval, whose love, for whose “I’m OK” do we hunger? What are we not facing and why?
So, what can we do? We can acknowledge the truth of the Byrds’ No. 1 “Book of Ecclesiastes” song: “Turn! Turn! Turn! To everything there is a season.” And, we can become conscious of the unavoidable psychological conflicts anti-aging arouses. In these ways, we encourage gratification, meaning and love, toward all ages — now.