A Message From “The Family”: On the Loss of One’s Youth

Mister Rand is often overwhelmed by feelings of loss, particularly the loss of his brother, Jeff, to AIDS when Jeff was 35 years old. Losing his body is also a concern for Mister Rand. He is now 67 years old, and weighs 268 pounds, with osteoarthritis and pinched nerves causing pain in lower back, right side, ankles, and knees, particularly upon rising or attempting to walk. Although his heart is healthy, a genetic inheritance from his motherline, Mister Rand can no longer do the many physical things he enjoyed doing before the accident that triggered his pain. So Mister Rand grieves the loss of that capable, strong body, in part because now he must ask for help to accomplish things that he used to be able to do himself, and he was taught by his family and broadcast culture that men must be independent and self-reliant or they are weaklings worthy of despisement.

Why do bodies change over time? They change over time because, in physical reality, everything changes eventually, from galaxies on down to the paramecia in your digestive tract. Bodies can be thought of as conscious meat machines. All machines wear out or break down with long use or poor use, even if they have been regularly examined and treated for their conditions. Eventually, every machine needs to be replaced with a new one, including the machine of the human body.

In your advertisements, the photographs are always of fit, goodlooking people. In America, these people are usually Caucasian, and dressed in the style of the upper economic classes. Even in magazines devoted to older populations, the photographs are of the fit and beautiful, because there are products or services the advertisers in these magazines wish to promote, and they have found that pictures of real-looking people—people with wrinkles, or too much fat, or other divergences from the model community from which the advertisers draw their actors—do not attract readers to the products or services the advertisers wish to sell to them.

The problem with this ubiquitous image-saturation is that it trains readers to think of youth and fitness as the human norm, a snapshot of core humanness, with the result that humans who no longer possess these qualities frequently develop loathing for their bodies. And that loathing can lead to sometimes fatal self-neglect.

The reason why humans can be led to obsess about the youthful and fit is [partly] biological: the body has built into it by evolution a passion to join sexually with another, fertile body capable of engendering progeny.  [What physical attributes humans find most attractive vary from culture to culture.] A worldwide cultural study that Mister Rand read about found that there are only two things all cultures tend to find most attractive in men and women: in men, shoulders wider than waists, and in women, hips wider than waists, both evidences of genetic fertility. Attraction to breast size and penis size—hallmarks of American porn—are culturally based, not biologically based. So is the idealization of large buttocks found in some African cultures, and the attraction to small feet [found] in certain Asian cultures.

How does one deal with the grief one feels at the loss of one’s youthfulness? One first acknowledges it, taking a serious look at one’s physical capabilities as they truly are, not as one wishes they were. Then one asks questions of appropriate persons, questions [firstly] aimed at achieving understanding of the physical changes that have taken place; and secondly, questions aimed at achieving understanding of which changes can be ameliorated by changes in eating and exercise habits and which probably cannot. Next, one makes the decision to treat one’s body with the loving respect it deserves as the noble workhorse it has been since one was born into it. “Would I treat a beloved pet, or a beloved child, the way I treat my body?” is a question Mister Rand has found useful to ask, for he has found that often he expresses anger towards his body in passive neglect or active abuse of it.

Physical reality can be a place of pain, emotional and physical. Learning to live in physical reality necessitates accepting that one cannot thrive in spacetime all on one’s own.  So grief over the loss of one’s youthful bodily capabilities necessitates sharing one’s grief with others who can empathize without judgment. Sometimes these are genetic relatives; more often, in Western culture, these are friends, support groups, or counselors. But one must become willing to feel, and support is essential to dealing with the feelings that arise. •

— Channeled Dec. 19, 2017.

 

 

 

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