Thursday, April 02, 2015

Looking for the Fountain of Youth

It has been said that the line between youth and age is the point when you stop yearning to look older and begin to hope that you look younger. The search for youth is an old--and timely-- story. It was on April 2, in 1513 that Ponce de Leon,
looking for the fountain of youth, claimed Florida. He was just one of many who had sought the secret of youth. The ancient story of the search for the Holy Grain was also a search for a way to stay forever young.

Today those with the same desire have an endless bounty of pseudo-miracles to prolong the appearance of youth. We have lasers, Botox and plastic surgery.  But there is some disappointment as the pressure to be young intensifies. A few years ago when the middle-aged “Baby Boom” was predicted we imagined that having an older majority would mean a celebration or acceptance of aging. We were wrong. Rather than our demographic bump offering us permission to de-babe, it instead created even more pressure to not go gently into our wrinkles and gray hair. 

How does this apply to us as people in recovery? Well, if you’ve been around awhile or you plan to be in recovery a long time –you’ll need to come to terms with your beliefs and choices around aging and your appearance.

Sure we can blame media and marketing for the pressure to look younger but the focus on “them” ignores the fact that the search for youth is not really about looking younger. What Ponce de Leon and those who sought the Grail wanted was not actually a cosmetic fix but immortality. They wanted to not die. 
Fountain of Youth--Lucas Cranach The Elder

And of course many of us came into recovery because we didn’t want to die—at least not the way we were going to if we kept using. 

But the truth is that we will die and recovery offers us the chance to really think that through. Only when we understand that we really are going to die do we ask the crucial questions like:  What do you want to do with your life? And with whom do you want to spend your precious time? Maybe accepting death –really accepting it—is the best secret to living young.

As so many of us try to erase our age with lotions and lasers, we are trying to change reality. But that is also magical thinking, just like looking for the fountain of youth. 

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