Rooms 461-475: Reclaim The Fountain Of Youth
I found the Fountain of Youth. And it’s not in a bottle. Or spring waters. Or even in the miracle urine of a Tibetan Yak.
And yes, I’m going to share the secret with you, even though you already know it. But before I do, let me start by saying that this wisdom belongs to all ages, and not just those of us whose time for cartwheels on the grass has come and gone.
Staying youthful is a challenge and adventure that belongs to everybody, no matter how new or shiny we may or may not be. It has absolutely nothing to do with chronological age, or for that matter, diets, facelifts, tummy tucks, or recapturing the time when looking at our naked self in the mirror didn’t make us glad our eyesight was worsening.
Staying youthful is about attitude and perspective. And not the “let’s make lemons out of lemonade” kind of attitude. We’re not talking about denying our changing bodies. We’re talking about standing in our truth and accepting who we really are.
You see the downside of age is not that our bodies change, but that our spirits dim and our enthusiasm for life wanes. And this isn’t because our bodies can no longer do what they once did for us. It’s because we have forgotten who we really are, which has always been the fastest way to fall out of love with life and the surest path to anxiety, fatigue and old age.
Fortunately, we don’t have to sit idly by while the joy of life slowly seeps its way out of our pores. We don’t have to believe for one second longer that aging bodies mean aging spirits. They don’t. One is the house, the other is the energy within that house.
The Fountain of Youth is a Spirit that doesn’t just live within us, it is us. The real us. And it’s infinitely youthful and full of joy, and it whispers to us all a common message—live as who you really are, and as you do this…fall in love with life again.
Rooms 461-475: Reclaim The Fountain Of Youth
Reclaiming the Fountain of Youth isn’t about stopping the clock, or turning it back. It’s about shifting our perspective—choosing where to focus our attention, and what to filter out.
Youth—like beauty—is in the eyes of the beholder. But not someone else’s eyes. Our own.
This doesn’t mean we put on blinders and delude ourselves into believing we’re something we’re not. If we have brown spots and hearing aids, we have brown spots and hearing aids. It’s about reframing who we really are and defining for ourselves what is real. And whether you’re 21 or 91, this is something we can all embrace.
To conjure up this Fountain of Youth, we need to first make peace with our bodies, both for what they are and what they are not.
For most of my life I have looked 20 years younger than I was, even being carded until I was 35. Even now I still look younger than the 55 years it says on my driver’s license.
I’ve also had few health issues to complain about. In fact, I have gone through most of my life without more than the one stitch on the back of my head, courtesy of a pole I ran into when I was 9 and liked to wear masks.
Three years ago that changed. I started getting vertigo, dizziness, ringing in the ears and hearing loss. I was told I had Meniere’s Disease in one ear, and an acoustic neuroma in the other ear. But that doesn’t matter. We all have our own ways of going from health to sickness and back to health, just as we each have our own ways of getting older and wearing down.
And when you consider the fact that man has been walking this planet for over 2 million years, it’s really an imperceptible difference between when each of our body’s decide to give up. We’re all a blink or two away from each other. So what I have is what I have, the same way that what you have is what you have.
And while that might sound like a good reason to stay in bed, it’s really the first step to reclaiming the Fountain of Youth. Knowing and accepting that we’re all impermanent beings who blossom and wither no differently than the trees moving from spring to winter is a liberating call to live life differently. It gives us permission to stop pretending to be something we’re not. Like flesh and bones. Or a full head of hair and chiseled abs.
It also gives us permission to find out who we really are. And this is where it gets exciting.
I know it's easy to get melancholy over our shrinking bodies or the fact that our butts are disappearing, along with hairlines, firm breasts and once partially chiseled abs. And no one likes to acknowledge that their pee ain't what it used to be, let alone eyesight, hearing or sex drive. But face it, there’s always something about getting older that bugs us. For me it’s my hearing. Well, that and the new way my sideburns grow out instead of down, in this Brillo pad sort of way, kind of like Neil Young.
It's also human nature to want to measure our lives by how we used to feel, used to live, or how our sideburns used to grow. But that's like pushing a boulder uphill. It's eventually going to wear us out and lead us nowhere. We're never going to measure up to that photo on our mantle piece. It's impossible to reclaim our once invigorated bodies.
But as soon as we see our bodies for what they are—vehicles that take us from A-B, or temples that house an indomitable Spirit of energy and love—well, all of a sudden, that streak of gray in your hair or wattle in your arm doesn't seem like such a big deal. It becomes the illusion that it is.
We are not our poor vision or arthritic bones. And for those of you that do have chiseled abs, I’m sorry to say you are not those either. But, enjoy them just the same.
By focusing on the true essence of who we are, we can make peace with our aging bodies and reclaim the Fountain of Youth. How you do this is up to you and the individual way you seek awareness and truth. But the search inward is the only way to counter the “my body’s breaking down” tapes that we play in our heads.
Don’t look in the mirror. Look within. Don’t see spots on the arm, see light. Don’t see a body that’s hunched over, see a body that carries truth, awareness, and wisdom on its back.
Don’t see a body betraying you. See a body that’s served your Spirit well.
Of course, knowing we’re eternal beings isn’t the only way to stay young. Moisturizer helps. So does water, good diet and exercise.
And so does finding something that makes you want to leap out of bed in the morning. That’s the real secret weapon.
Unfortunately, as we get older, and our bodies weaken and our minds slow, we suddenly feel like we can't compete like we used to. We’re not as strong and magnificent as we used to be. So we get disgruntled and cynical, complaining that the game is rigged in favor of the young. And that’s when we take our ball and go home.
I’m only 55 and it’s still easy to feel old once in awhile. At least ten times a day I have to cup my ear and ask someone to repeat themselves. I also slur, mix up my words and forget my train of thought (good thing I’m already married).
I don’t kid myself. Like many people in different periods of their life, I know it’s a new ballgame. But, that doesn’t matter, because I’m still in the game. Everything still works, just on a different level and at a different pace.
Now that can be frustrating or challenging, but the choice is mine.
I realize if your knees are shot, you're probably not going to run a marathon, anymore than the guy with vertigo is going to climb Mt. Everest. If you're not strong enough to paddle over 15 foot waves, then you probably should avoid Pipeline in Hawaii.
There will always be inevitable changes that come as we get older, but the part of us that wants to stay engaged and creative is always there. Experience. Adventure. Laughter. Awareness. Spontaneity. Love. These things don’t go way. They remain a part of our spiritual DNA.
Getting older doesn’t mean it’s time to quit. It means it’s time to redefine the means to our goals—not lowering the bar or settling for less—but shifting gears to achieve our goals in a different way.
You don't need to climb Mt. Everest, you just need a mountain. You don't need a marathon to run, you just need a trail.
To reclaim the Fountain of Youth is to know you’re not the aches and pains and changes in your body. It is to live every moment you have in the most honest and truthful way you can.
That means falling in love with life again. It means finding something to laugh about, someone to help, a purpose to follow.
It means moving, searching, contributing, evolving, becoming. It means always living your life as an active verb.
As Bob Dylan wrote, and Neil Young appropriately once sang, “may you stay forever young”.
Weird sideburns and all.
If you enjoyed today's post, subscribe above. Receive your Weekly Room delivered right to your inbox. And, while you're at it, you can visit me on: