Celebrating a “mystery milestone” birthday of a friend, I started thinking about longevity. While we recruit science to lengthen our telomeres, upgrade our bodies and other key cell rejuvenators and strive to live really long lives, our culture remains resolutely anti-aging. Living longer has somehow become divorced from getting older as if the two were completely unrelated events.
We have moved away from believing age to be a privilege, and have started to think of it as a birthright, and it has little cache in society. The generation-gap has become more of an unbridgeable chasm, and I see people siloed according to their age all the time. Older people are hired less often for jobs and sometimes lead very lonely lives. In fact age is such a horrifying number that some of us don’t dare celebrate our birthdays, and if we do, we take care never to mention our age lest it make others shrink back in horror.
The desperate pro-age pursuit of our times is certainly doing a lot for our bodies (making 60 the new 40 for one), but what is it doing for our lives? As we consider the possibility of becoming the next generation of the “new 40” or the “new 90,” perhaps we need to look at longevity differently and become pro-aging not just pro-age.