October 25, 2011

A Different Phase of Life

The older I grow, the more Dr. Andrew Weil catches my attention. I have yet to read an entire book of his but I open them from time to time as they are great references. This Harvard educated doctor is a very wise man and has lots to say about the aging process. What I do with many books, instead of starting at the table of contents, is just randomly open to a page and start reading. Very often I land on something that interests me.

Dr. Weil has many good quotes about growing older and I thought I'd share some of them with you today:

  • I had thought that turning 50 was going to be the big milestone. But, in retrospect, it wasn't. You know, I think life went on pretty much as usual. But turning 60 was different for me. I think it was impossible to avoid the fact that I'm in a different phase of life. 

( I love his term "different phase of life". There is something very freeing about the aging process when put in these terms: Hey, no wonder I feel different... I am in a different phase of life! I am supposed to feel different.)

  • I think in this culture, we are entirely youth-obsessed, and so we view aging as a catastrophe -- that it only brings negatives. When you look in other cultures where aging looks different -- and the example that I've used in my book, the main one, is Okinawa at the southern end of Japan -- whole communities make efforts to include the oldest [of the] old in all community activities so they have a chance to interact with people of all ages. 

  • I have to say, coming there as an American, what most struck me was the different cultural attitude toward aging. The oldest old are really honored. And they're celebrated. And they look different. To me, they're beautiful. And I think beauty has two roots. One is good health, and the other is your relationship to yourself. And these old people I saw there, they like themselves. And they are happy with being old. 

  • My concern is when people do things -- you know, whether this is Botox or cosmetic surgery for the purpose of making it easier to pretend that aging is not happening. I don't think that's mentally healthy. I think it is healthy to observe the fact that we're aging, that we're moving along this continuum of life. I don't think it's good to deny that.

Health nut Jorge Cruise has interviewed Dr. Weil on the importance of staying away from flour and sugar as much as we can because they cause inflammation and joint pain. I also posted about inflammation and aging awhile back here.

There is also lots of helpful info on Dr. Weil's website above.