Each Moment We Have A Choice

The Art of De-Aging



Summer is the perfect time to practice de-aging, a wonderful thing I discovered years ago on this tiny island in Southeastern Greece, where I’m grateful to live, work and overdo it on fresh feta several months a year.

De-aging—a smart practice for all ages—is to personal well-being what snapping photos is to a great vacation. And it’s what I decided to focus on last week when at least 100 friends and guests gathered at a favorite beach cafe to celebrate a funny, savvy new book, just out, called All is Well: The Art {and Science} of Personal Well Being.

OK, full disclosure, it’s my new book, based on my 40 years writing the healthy lifestyle column you’re reading now.

“40 years on the fitness beat,” I like to say to reassure the wary, and still eating fries.”

“Kaz Tanahashi—now in his 80s—is the inventor of de-aging,”
I explained to friends from 14 countries: Greeks, Swedes, French, British, Italians, Dutch, Austrians, Australians, and a couple from Tonga. It turns out that an interest in personal well-being knows no boundaries.

“De-aging is boundless too,” Kaz would say if he were here instead of traveling the world—painting, teaching calligraphy, spreading Zen teachings on what it means to live a good life. In fact, it’s Kaz’s gorgeous enso—a one-stroke brush painting—that’s on the cover of All is Well.

I held up the book for everyone to see, a swoosh of red and gold, an imperfect circle in a single bold brush stroke.

“The enso contains the perfect and imperfect,” I read Kaz’s quote from the opening pages. “That is why it’s always complete.”

I looked up at the crowd and saw many people nodding. It could have been the “All is Well elixir” (a healthy blend of the island’s best prosecco and fresh beet juice) but no. The audience understood. None of us are perfect humans leading perfect lives. We screw up; we make mistakes; we start again; and as time goes on, we hope to make choices that lead to a balanced and joyful life. That’s what de-aging is all about.

“De-aging isn’t a product or a program,” I kept reading. “It’s a concept, a way of slowing down the aging process without resorting to desperate anti-aging measures involving pills, or fetal lamb cells.

“De-aging is more active,” I quoted Kaz. “Each moment we have a choice. The choice is between doing something that ages us, or de-ages us, something that makes us more vital or less vital, more healthy or less healthy.

“If I’m tired, I can choose to take a walk, or I can watch TV. I can choose to relax and meditate, or I can smoke. I can overwork, or I can rest. I can take a job that is more stressful or less stressful ... and in this way, we can shape our life. Are we aging or are we de-aging? It’s an active choice.”

The Kaz quote ended, and I continued. “Fortunately for all of us, you don’t have to be a Zen master to figure it out. Will you have a donut and diet cola for breakfast or yogurt and fresh fruit? Hold onto anger or let it go? Choose to drive or walk, or bike?”

“You can’t really control overall aging,” Kaz teaches, “but by doing de-aging, moment by moment, we can slow it down.”

Slowing down is what we’re all choosing to do when we spend time here. We swim in the sea, read books, take walks. We make time to meet old friends and make new ones. We eat and drink together and tell stories about our children, our cancers, our concerns about these scorching hot summer days.

I’m preaching to the converted, I think to myself as I’m closing,
but I’m not really preaching. I’m a journalist, reporting on what I’ve learned, what many already know.

Before I thank everyone for coming, I ask: “If you were going to practice de-aging, what would you do?”

“I’d daydream more,” someone shouted.

“I’d dance more.”

“I’d spend more time with Sabena!” (a local goddess). Lots of laughter.

“I’d buy your book and read it!”

Aah... my own moment of de-aging.

What’s yours?

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