My new article “The Fountain of Eternal Youth” appeared in Medium.
Throughout centuries, countless methods and treatments have been created that claim to stop or diminish the aging process, as people experience deep physiological, psychological, and social changes associated with growing older. Israeli scientists claim to have found the secret to looking and staying younger forever. Even if that turns out to be possible, it means nothing without exploring the subject from a deeper level, one that answers the most important question of all, “What do I live for?”
Scientific research from Tel Aviv University and Shamir Medical Center in Israel placed a group of healthy 64 year-old people in hyperbaric chambers and supplied them with sessions of high levels of oxygen for three months. Scientists responsible for the experiment claim that the therapy delayed the aging process, “reversed” it, and transformed those individuals’ performance to levels similar to people 25 years younger.
Aging scares and troubles most of humanity. Since the natural aging process relentlessly brings a person closer and closer to the end of life and to the unknown, it can also involve anguish. Old age and death are not necessarily a pleasant thing, but everything that happens in nature has a definite purpose and benefit that we may not realize. So it would be ill-advised to run to tamper with or change any natural state.
It is far wiser for us to go hand in hand with the natural aging process and learn to adjust comfortably to our situation, instead of artificially fighting the natural phenomena of getting older. People age; it happens naturally. The question is whether we as a society behave properly with people throughout the entire lifecycle process. We must scrutinize, “Are the elderly busy and feel that society needs them?” Indeed, a healthy society should consider their contributions as important!
If I did not have my daily teaching schedule, I would happily go out and clean the street. I would gather friends who live in my neighborhood and offer them to clean with me around the buildings. Why not? It’s healthy to move outside, breath fresh air, make a physical effort and in the process be in the company of others. Upon finishing this joint activity I would sit down together with my friends on the neighborhood’s bench and drink coffee. Any self-respecting community leader can offer such a social enterprise and many others to its elderly residents. Our senior citizens have a lifetime of experience and wisdom to share as mentors and help those just beginning their path.
And if the example of cleaning seems to someone as not worthy or dignifying, the problem is within the person himself. It is important to train all members of society to take care of the environment and serve the community. From this principle it is clearer that society must be properly educated in order to respect and appreciate old age, to give it a place, to devote thought to it. Society’s right attitude should be to discover how much it needs its senior citizens. Ask the children, they understand this well because this premise is naturally built in them.
Grandparents, parents, and children should maintain bonds of connection that flow from generation to generation, giving birth to a spirit of youth within the elderly among the family. The elderly already understand that one should accept life as it comes and have learned how to strive to be above all worries and project such attitudes to grandchildren. The youngest ones receive so many invaluable gifts from grandparents, an example of love that is unconditional, simple warmth without calculations.
In a nutshell, aging should not be a scary prospect. Instead of thinking that we have nothing else to contribute, the golden years should open a plethora of opportunities for new attainment when we realize that the most important aspect of a rich and meaningful life is found in human connection. Precisely the questions: “What is the meaning of life” and “Why do I live” are the gateways to a boundlessly better world.
With the knowledge that the answers to those questions can be found in our human relations, in our connection, and in actions that have lasting benefit to others, we transcend our corporeal life. We understand that there is a colossal mechanism surrounding our life and our world that surpasses existence in our temporary physical body. This reckoning prepares us in great depth to enter the wide, eternal world, a higher level of existence beyond the limits of time and space.