We sometimes live our lives as though we are running a series of sprints, 100 metres to our desired career, 200 metres to the perfect house. Ageing is considered to be something that affects us in later life. What if we consider ageing – as some scientific studies have found – to be a lifelong process that begins at birth? Perhaps if we thought about our life and ageing in terms of a marathon we might live more sustainably. We might consider our education as a warm up, or the pit stops we will inevitably need along the way. We would be in it for the long haul, making sure we pace ourselves; take care of our bodies and train our minds to endure the difficulties and stay motivated.
Old age, being the final part of the long and difficult journey could then take on many positive connotations. The phase where we are more at peace with our identity – having taken care of ourselves and lived a life of balance our bodies might last longer, our minds would be stronger and perhaps we would be less attached to and concerned by ever changing aspects of human life, such as our bodies. We may be wiser.
Just look at Carmen DelOrefice, still working as a model at 80, she is unique. For me, Carmen is an inspiration. She has challenged assumptions and questioned boundaries at every stage of her life. She is far more than just a body: she understands that in this forever shifting industry that it is critical to know who you are.
People of all ages have a lot to offer in terms of dealing with the difficult issues that face our society today. Now more than ever with our growing global population, increasing older demographic, and pressure on the world’s dwindling resources, we need to draw on experience and practice wisdom to tackle the problems we face.
So… how do we work with media, advertisers in fashion and other industries, to embrace the idea that growing old is positive and that age and ageing has a vital role to play in society.
The Long Run – Life is a Marathon: The Science and Art of Ageing, is a discussion I’ve been asked to attend later this evening. Backed by the Institute for Ageing and Health in Newcastle it is co-hosted by the RSA in order to promote positive attitudes to issues around ageing and health throughout our lives.