Thought I’d share a Ted Talk that my daughter forwarded to me today to discuss over dinner tonight. It brings to the surface some very interesting thoughts and perspective around age and ageing. I found it well messaged in the main. Be interested in your thoughts. Mine are below. https://youtu.be/WfjzkO6_DEI
What I like is that the presenter has brought to the surface many blind spots that we have within our social system around the topic of age and ageing. She counters them with really good arguments that allow us to ponder upon our own judgements and beliefs, and perhaps even help us to change just one of them. That is a good thing. I love her line about “I am getting old because my left knee hurts – but your right knee doesn’t and it’s the same age!” What a great paradigm breaker!
I disagree with some of her argument and constructs. Whilst arguing the need to break down the old beliefs, patterns and judgements, she uses judgement and beliefs of her own to “make wrong” constructs like capitalism, ‘big business’ and ‘big pharma’ (and a lot more) in the same breath. What I think she is trying to do but doesn’t quite get there is to argue that ageism – or any ism is a part of the whole system. That any “ism” needs to be brought to light – not in judgement but in acknowledging that it exists (even if just in our minds). .
Blaming one part of the system for the ails of another part of that system is flawed logic, a circular argument, and uncreative. For example, I don’t personally believe that big pharma is out to conspire to make us feel old/sick/bad/wrong – (that’s marketing’s role if we choose to listen to it – and we unconsciously do). While blaming them for being the bad guys, she fails to recognise that big pharma is still a part of our overall system. And we cannot change the system from within it (to paraphrase Einstein). By observing the whole system in context, we can address the beliefs and behaviours we need to address within ourselves (and that helps change the whole system). My belief is that, on balance, big pharma scientists go to work ‘on purpose,’ perhaps thinking how they could make all lives better by reducing pain, eliminating suffering etc. What we have done, as part of the same system, is to wrap it all in judgement, blame and an unconscious belief that we must ‘make them wrong’ to ‘make us right.’ After all, “those big companies rob us of our money by making us feel bad about ourselves and then sell us stuff to make us feel better.” No. If I feel bad about myself – that’s me doing that. That’s me buying into a marketing campaign. I can change that belief pretty quickly really.
I just need to take full responsibility and ownership for all my stuff – not outsource the issue to ‘the bad guys’ (which I believe to be another mental construct!).
I am reminded by words that my late mother used to speak around being delighted in ageing and gaining white in her hair – a privilege to be able to do so compared to the many that never get to experience it. She also said once when I asked if she would retire at 80 “Why? I get up and my hip hurts, my foot hurts and it takes a bit longer to get to the bus, but why would I want to not go to work? Why would I not want to be with people half my age, active, alive, aware, thinking, challenging? My hip will still hurt at work, but my mind will be on other more important things.” Purpose-full.
For me the message is – keep surfing!