"We turn not older with years, but newer every day."
Here's a glimpse at my vision poster I crafted this weekend. I've had the magazine cut-outs for quite some time but finally was able to dedicate the time and energy to craft it.
What I love about it is the jazzed feeling I get whenever I look at it ~ it's just very grounding to me. So many eclectic words and images pop and scream at me in their different voices. It is, at once, an image of who I was once upon a time, who I am but often forget to be, and who I happily ever after wish to be. But to be or hope to be ~ that is the question.
The thing in itself I'm referring to here is youth, because so much of the magic (or magical thinking, to coin a prophetic phrase from a very, magical gal I know) alive in this poster has a kind of youthful spirit about it.
I'm reading a book called You're Only Young Twice: 10 Do-Overs to Reawaken Your Spirit by Ronda Beaman. This is not to be confused with the most hilarious, must-read Dr. Seuss book I have bought for all the 70 year olds and other geriatric loved ones in my life, as featured below.
So anyways, I was attracted to it because the cover shows an image of the author leap frogging over a man, presumably her husband. And as I read it, I became intrigued by how she shifts the paradigms and creates fun acronyms out of words we perceive to know well.
Consider how she re-thinks the following words:
Age - Act, Grow, Evolve
Old - Outlook, Language, Drives
Live - Look, Inquire, Vent, Enjoy
Joy - Just Obey Yourself
The central premise of her book is that there is a science of the soul that enables us to remain youthful, if we so choose. She refers to this process as neoteny ~ the science of growing young. She insists that "we can direct our own evolutionary path" and reprogram our DNA from one of matter to a DNA of spirit, simply by cultivating traits like love, compassion, curiosity and wonder.
Her suggestions aren't rocket science. They range from incorporating more music and dance into one's life, starting a "joy" jar, or learning to play, laugh, sing, smile, learn and fall in love more. And it all begins and ends with thought. You're only as old as you feel, look, act, whatever...you really do choose your own reality on this one.
Aging is getting alot of media attention these days. It always has, but more so lately. Body scans, Botox, "real age" quizzes and anti-aging products abound, as the Boomer age comes of age.
Yet despite the reality that 60s flower children, who quintessentially defined 20th century youth, are our new-age grandparents, our vision hasn't changed much.
Sure, we have Dove campaigns now to help counter that youth is more than an air-brushed picture in a magazine, it's a state of mind. But what's really going on, Beaman claims, is that we've bought into the cultural and aging myths, memes and madness about what it means to age.
Memes are popular in blogging and e-mails. The run the gambit from those lovely 20 fascinating aspects you could care less about me but I'm going to tell you anyways to the ever-popular 43 things to countless other topic questionnaires. Memes in a cultural sense, are defined as "units of behavior, values, and language that evolve and are passed on through imitation and learning.
Tying shoelaces, perfecting family recipes, learning what not to say and do with an explosive personality in your life, understanding the intricacies of non-verbal communication - these are all memes, of sorts. And there's a ton of them alive and well in the arena of aging - not the least of which are the verbal vomit.
You know the one's we tell ourselves - "if I could just bottle little Johnny's energy....(big sigh)...I'd be a millionnaire" or "energy is wasted on the young" or "another gray hair...wow, I really am getting old."
And don't even get me started on modes of behavior. I'm reminded of it every time I hop on the shopping cart and take my daughter for a joy ride through the downslope parking lot, with both of us screaming ~ or in my case, just yelling that nauseating monotone ahhh! so that anytime we hit a bump it makes a vibrating ahhh! sound. The looks I get from fellow shoppers - now that should go in an American Express commercial - it's priceless, really. Come on, people. Lighten up, already!
And last night. I brought my new Wild Thing button (a variation on the Staples Easy button) to the penultimate final game of my son's Little League tournament. Every time one of the boys hit a homer or got someone out or made an otherwise fantastic play, our crowd would hoot and holler and I would hit the Wild Thing button. It was so much fun giving in to my Pavlovian side...and so much cleaner than salivating.
But it was also so funny because the other moms would look at me in horror whenever I offered them the choice to hit the button when their boy did something awesome. You would think I was offering them a hunk of stinky cheese on moldy bread. Which is a visual picture and aroma not altogether dissimilar to the process of becoming old and stodgy and decidedly adult and normative.
It's the cheapest of little thrills that bring the most joy sometimes. And God knows, with stress and bills and demands and deadlines looming for all of us constantly in our myriad work, parenting and home lives, a little joy can be a big thing.
I know people who have allowed their ill health and attitude to shape their perception of aging such that they became decades older than their years, in demeanor and appearance. And I know people who have already given up living, believing all their best years to be behind them or perhaps more telling, ahead of them in their "next" life. And conversely, I know a precious few who continually defy the printed date on their birth certificate, proving that one is only as old as one chooses to be. And that if you keep doing what you've always done (think you're aging), you'll keep getting what you've always got (old).
Anyways, I like the thought of being born again scientifically. Of course, we're continually doing that anyways, on so many levels ~ from the molecular and cellular to the big picture civilization and universal picture. But I like the idea that we can evolve backwards into our process of becoming. It's like being retro and futuristic at the same time without having to do anything except be.
To be or not to be, that is the question. Or is it the answer? If it was a multiple choice questionnaire, I'd choose forever young. I kinda have to. How else am I going to get away with popping wheelies, blowing spit bubbles and singing This Old Gray Mare She Ain't What She Used to Be while cruising erratically on the downslope in the grocery parking lot?
Because if it's gonna be a downward slope, I figure I might as well enjoy the ride. And if Lynn lived here, we could shop together and race each other through the parking lot.
That's what over the hill should mean. Conquering it head-on and head strong. On that note, I'm over and out.