Thursday, April 29, 2010

Age is in Our Minds

The other night, Marcy and I watched an excellent documentary about the making of the album Rio. We love music documentaries in general, but specifically, I big time HEART Duran Duran, and I have done so since I was 15 and first saw their video for The Reflex on the newly part-of-general-cable MTV. It was like a little miracle that first song, and I very much wanted to crawl into the television.

They were cute, certainly, but it was the music and Simon's singing that got me hooked. I wanted nothing more than to grow up and be a singer and dancer. I ached with this desire. To this day, their music triggers that response. (Of course, I have -- Thank all that is good -- returned to dance and in doing so have unintentionally returned to song, as I encourage singing in my yogadance classes to open up that 5th chakra that is very tight in most women.)

Back to the documentary. At one point, they show some old footage of Simon le Bon and he flashes this incredible smile, and suddenly, I was not just remembering being 15 but I was 15. Really. I could feel the 15 that I had been and it felt transformative. On the inside. Like I had accessed some part of me that is infinitely and forever 15.

Suddenly, a lot of stuff clicked into place.

I remembered earlier this year reading in a Kripalu newsletter (go here to read the article) about the work of a scientist who did an experiment referred to as "counterclockwise."

Harvard Psychologist Ellen J. Langer basically took a group of elderly men, who suffered from a variety of age-related ailments, and she put them in a house that was purely comprised of things from their youth. They were not allowed to bring anything modern with them.

By the end of the study, she was playing touch football with all of the men, including one of whom came to the house with a cane!

Surrounding them with their youth did not just remind them of their youth but it made them youthful.

Yes. I am listening to way more Duran Duran again.

If you could conceive for a moment that aging is all in our minds, what would you change about your life?

What sorts of things could you do to support this change?*

(*Please. No one needs to get a mullet. Not ever again. I mean, we can take this way too far, right?)

NOTE: The video, The Reflex, was watched for the sake of the creation of this post, and I am pretty sure I felt my skin tighten.


Lisa said...

Yes, absolutely no mulletts!!!

Great post, Christine :)

I've been getting to know my early 20's self again lately ~ as well as my teens self. It's a pretty cool process. I'm reflecting on time in my life when I was the happiest and most carefree (e.g. my semester in France in 1988) and building some of those elements into my current situation.

Just yesterday I dug out my hot pink binder that contains poetry and quotes from the early to mid 1980's. Whoa!!! (I might be sharing some of them on my blog soon.)

There's a lot of healing that needs to happen for these version of myself. And also a lot of joy and freedom to be found in them as well.

You are right, aging is choice. And we can co-create it as we go.

BTW, working with elementary school kids for the past several months has *really* helped me remember and embrace my younger self!

Rachel @ Suburban Yogini said...

This is why I still listen to Nirvana. It reminds me of a hot August night just outside London when I saw them play what we didn't know then but would turn out to be their last gig in the UK. It makes me feel 18 again. It makes me 18 again.

(this of course does not mean that plaid shirts and shorts over long johns need ever come back as a fashion statement either)

Linda-Sama said...

most definitely. age is in our minds. and I have found that if you act young, people perceive you as younger. and I don't mean like in acting young and stupid as we (or some of us!) did in our youth.

I will be 56 in less than two weeks and people always (at least so far) think I am 10-15 years younger than I am, especially in India. in fact, an Indian woman thought I was my friend's daughter! and my friend is only 6 months younger than me! let me tell ya, that did NOT make my friend happy...;) BUT...she seems/acts older than I.

Lori-Lyn said...

Yes, yes, yes.

Eco Yogini said...

oh my- this is needed. I love working with preschoolers for this very reason- playing and being silly has encouraged a different outlook on life (especially after all the seriousness of gradschool).

What would I change? I would dance more.... even though I'm terrible at it.

I would dance without being selfconcious.

And I would truly believe in Magic.

Eco Yogini said...

ps- Rachel, I LOVE Nirvana... sigh. Live at NY album- best ever.

(also, singing Zombie by the Cranberries really is a fantastic way to let loose...)

Linda-Sama said...

age before beauty, christine....

claire said...

I love music from the 60s and 70s. I can still remember the first time I heard the Beatles in 1963 in England... And I do surround myself with music the beat of which brings me back to younger days :-)
What a great idea to surround oneself with things of one's youth...
Now I have to go and listen to Duran Duran.

Debra She Who Seeks said...

Wow, there's a scientific basis for nostalgia!

laluna said...

Love this post! And so true. I teach middle school students, and no, contrary to popular belief, it does not make me crazy at all; rather, it's an opportunity to laugh and have fun (and be young) all day long!

(I just have to add that I actually got to meet Duran Duran a few years ago when they reunited and toured, and while I was about 37 at the time, I'm pretty sure I completely turned into my 15 year old self during those moments, especially when Simon used my name during our conversation!! ;-)

Stacy Hurt said...

I too say Yes, Yes, Yes! I have a daughter who just turned 17; I tell her often that I not only remember being 17; I still AM 17! (without the pimply thing) and it's awesome!

As a woman; I want her to understand what aging is and isn't! It is all just a state of mind (ok; as long as I don't catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror). The body does age, we can't stop that; but we can as Bryan Adams says 'Be 18 till we die!"

Dia said...

I love the concept of 'reverse aging' - & tend to feel/act younger than I am chronologically (60 this fall).
When our new receptionist, in her mid 30s, was typing up a new office BD list - she looked at me & said "I can't believe it!' . . . I giggled & said 'Oh, that's right! Now I'm the 'oldest' one in the office again!' & she sighed '& I'm the youngest' . . .
I play harp, & in a unit on 'how music heals' our teacher cited similar studies - that folks become more cognizant when you play the music of their youth for them.

fun blurb :)

svasti said...

Haha! That means that my obsession with Jeff Martin (from Canadian band The Tea Party) isn't as weird as it seems. I've been in love with him for over 15 years now and every time I go to see him (including next week) I feel like a teenager going on a date. *giggle*

When people find out my age (38) they often tell me I look much younger, which is fine by me.

Oh geez, if I was still as young as I feel sometimes, I'd give myself a good shake and make myself go back to school! I'm not in the position to do that now, but some additional studies at some point would be good, perhaps in some area of counseling. Who knows? But then, I've never really stopped learning and I'm still busy imbibing as much yoga knowledge as I can. May it always continue!

And what else would I do? Go out with men of my own age instead of all the much older guys I dated. And take off overseas to live in Spain for a while (that may still happen!)

Vampires and Tofu said...

Wow, what an awesome post...I'm gonna put this into real life use. Listen to my old fave music, watch my old fave shows. I recently found my fave paper dolls (from when I was a kid) on eBay and yes indeedy, I bought them. Think it's time to play!!

Treese said...

Oh wow! I started listening to Duran Duran again, and have been experiencing the same thing--feeling like a teenager, as if everything was before me and there were no limits to possibility.

I really feel out of touch with a lot of women who are around my age. I feel a lot more youthful and would really want to recapture the enthusiasm and fearlessness that comes with being in your early to mid-20s. I miss it. Thanks for this post, and I'm glad I found your blog!