Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Aging

There is something very satisfying about drawing portraits of mature people. Their faces have character and substance. Its as if you can read their life from looking at their faces.

Yet people, especially in North America, do everything in their power to avoid aging-
hair dye, cosmetic surgery, lotions and potions, diet and excessive fitness regimes - and most end up looking like characatures of themselves. Seventy-five year olds pretending to be 30 and looking like clowns instead. There is something to be said for growing old gracefully.

No, I don't mean that you should lie there and wait for death but just not try to be something you are not. I came across this site dealing with 45 signs of aging and how to address them. The ironic thing is, even if you do all these things, guess what? You will still age and you'll still die eventually. Its programmed into your body and there is nothing that you can do to prevent it. The people and organizations that promise you youth and longevity are happily lining their pockets with your naievity.

So why do so many people frantically try to turn the clock back? Do they want health, flexibility, and opportunity or do they long for freedom and the ability to make their own decisions independently once more. After all, by trying to be youthful, what do you acheive? Why are people so scared of saying how old they are?

I truly never understand the fear that is associated with aging. My fear of aging is lack of health and lack of finances, both which will most like affect me. But whether I have grey hair and wrinkles while I am old,sick and poor really makes no difference. Its hardly likely that I'll be roaming the streets looking for a sugar daddy at 80 years old.

Why do we age? Why can’t we be like sea anemones that live indefinitely (barring some awful accident, such as a whale chomping it into bits)? Or why can’t we stay 11 years old, the age when our regenerative capacity is strongest? Some scientists figure that if we maintained 11-year-old bodies throughout our lives, we could live 1,200 years, barring any significant diseases or accidents!

Aging is one of the least understood processes in science. That doesn’t mean there aren’t some perfectly sensible and likely theories, and very possibly you’ve heard one or two. Like the theory that our cells get hit over time by oxygen radicals (oxidants) that eventually damage our organs (which is why you hear so much about eating foods rich in anti-oxidants). Or that our genes control aging, switching on and off sequentially through the course of our lives. Even just the conventional "wear and tear" theory, which hypothesizes we’re built like machines whose vital parts eventually just wear out and die. Nobody knows for sure what causes aging.


On a note closer to home, in fact in a small town that I lived in and is only 7km away from me this news comes:

A gallery that has served as a retreat for more than 500 painters, sculptors and other artists from around the world has been forced to close after repeated safety violations that its director denounces as bogus. The Pouch Cove Foundation, with its picturesque view of the Atlantic Ocean that has drawn artisans and the curious alike from Toronto, New York and London since 1990, was ordered to shut down June 6. The building was first inspected by the province's fire commissioner in December 2004 at the request of the town council. Since then it failed repeated safety checks and the deficiencies worsened. Joanne Charette, a spokeswoman with the National Gallery of Canada, said while the gallery was not large it was well-known in art circles. "It does entertain a lot of travelling exhibitions, not only from the National Gallery, but from other centres as well," Charette said from Ottawa. "By losing a centre where artists can meet or where artists can showcase their work, it takes away the opportunity for new artists to be able to take their art to a different level."

Where one door shuts, another opens. Perhaps its my turn to become involved in some local art creation and opportunity...

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3 comments:

jm said...

Lovely comments about aging. Spending time recently in a hospital I was struck by the aged faces I encountered in the halls--people sitting in wheelchairs supposedly unable to move, heads drooped over and eyes vacant. But someone said to me recently that you must not forget the people who live inside the faces. They are still there! The human spirit doesn't age.

Thanks for the post.

"JeanneG" said...

And most of those in the hospital were probably drugged so they wouldn't make trouble. That seems the way the old age homes do.

Jeanette, loved what you said about a sugar-daddy. My grandma never told her real age, like Jack Benny she was always 39. She was not a beauty but she prissed and flounced her way everywhere she went like she was a 20 yr old. Wore her skirts short to her knees but failed to hide her stockings that were rolled in a garter and didn't go up above the hemline. She was quite a character. Thought a young announcer on tv was talking directly to her and she talked lovingly right back.

She ended up getting married again in her 80s and greatly upset all her living "children".

I am just hoping I don't end up like that. It is a scary thought.

Mireille Sampson said...

Opening an artistic door in your community - go for it!