Live Youthfully Now
Russell A. Kemp
God Gives Us Life, Not Age
Is there any power in the mere passage of time to make human beings lose their youth? This may seem like a strange question, since we have always believed that time has power to make us old. But fresh disclosures from modern medical science now cause us to question the validity of this common belief. We all have noticed that some persons seem to defy the passage of the years, and retain youthful vigor and strength at an age when others are feeble and infirm. Why is this?
If time really does have power to cause age and infirmity, why doesn’t time affect all people alike? Why can some people remain vigorous and healthy at an age when the majority are resigned to spending the rest of life as semi-invalids?
Consider, for instance, Larry Lewis. On June 25, 1962, the San Francisco News Call Bulletin carried a picture of Larry Lewis and his wife Bessie, who were having a three-way celebration. The occasion marked Larry’s ninety-fifth birthday (he was regularly employed as a banquet waiter at the St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco). It was also his wife’s sixty-fifth birthday, and their tenth wedding anniversary.
Now it is unusual enough for a man to be regularly employed as a waiter at the age of ninety-five, but the really startling thing about Larry Lewis is that he keeps in condition for his work by running more than six miles around Golden Gate Park every morning!
Time, of course, does not stand still for anybody. On September 11, 1966, the San Francisco Examiner carried this brief item: “Larry Lewis, the 99-year-old St. Francis Hotel waiter, has been widely publicized for his physical prowess. But how can you cease to marvel, as a luncheon group did the other day, when Larry lifted 220-pound Police Sergeant Sam Evjenth. Then the former Houdini partner, who’ll be 100 next June, proceeded to match heckle for heckle with Tommy Harris, the town’s prime rib.”
Does time of itself have power to age the human body? Then why has Larry Lewis escaped? Is he the only one? In the Monterey Peninsula Herald of October 6, 1966, I read that one William Hockenjos, of New Jersey, surrendered his driving license with this comment, “I think it’s about time I stopped driving.” Mr. Hockenjos, who is ninety-six, never received a summons or had an accident in sixty years behind the wheel. What a pity he felt led to give up driving! Perhaps if he and Larry had gotten together, he might have reconsidered. But even so, think of his accomplishment in driving for over a quarter of a century beyond the proverbial “threescore-years-and-tenwithout an accident or citation of any kind! Should not these two men at least make us question the validity of our racial habit of surrendering to the thing called age?
In Porterville, California, according to the San Francisco Examiner, a couple of “youngsters” got into a violent fist fight in the middle of a residential street. Police quickly separated the battlers, Dave Cheney and W. W. Cisco, and after they had calmed them down, they learned that the two close friends had argued over the outcome of their marbles game. Cheney was 67; Cisco was 76. Youthful high spirits, no doubt!
If most of us surrender to the passing or years and let them make us old, but certain others defy the passage of an even greater number of years, and retain the vigor and enjoyment of life associated with youth, can it be possible that aging is really our own fault? Is the effect that passing years have on our body really an individual matter? Here is what some modern medical scientists have to say upon this point.
After a conference of medical and surgical specialists at the Decourcy Clinic in Cincinnati, some years ago, the following report was issued: “Time is not toxic. All of those who develop a time-neurosis subscribe to the prevalent superstition that time is in some way a poison exerting a mysterious cumulative action ... time has no effect on human tissues under any conditions ... vigor does not necessarily vary inversely with the age of an adult. Belief in the effects of time by those who subscribe to such a belie! is the thing that acts as a poison.”
What startling language! The belief that time is in some way a poison is, they say, a superstition not a fact. What is a superstition? The dictionary defines it as “an irrational abject attitude of mind toward ... nature ... resulting from ignorance.”
To put it another way, there is no scientific basis for believing, as most of us do, that the passage of years automatically causes our body to age. It, as these medical men say, “Time has no effect on human tissues under any conditions,” then we are allowing a wrong belief to rule us; we are displaying an “irrational, abject attitude of mind ... resulting from ignorance.” It is belief in the effects of time that ages us, says this report. And who does the believing concerning this? You and I do it, of course, with the believing power of our own mind. But, they say, it is ignorance of the truth about the passage of time that causes us to cringe in fear before the accumulation of years. We need not surrender to age, if our mind is sufficiently enlightened.
And the good doctors are doing their best to enlighten us. The San Francisco Chronicle of April 16, 1965, carried a report of a hard-hitting speech by a Michigan doctor who, to quote the Chronicle’s Dick Hallgren, debunked the so-called infirmities of age before more than four thousand family doctors. The forgetful mind, the doddering gait, the shaky hand— these, said Dr. Frederick C. Swartz of Lansing, are caused by the lack of physical and mental exertion, and not by the passage of time.
“There are no diseases caused by the mere passage of time,” he told the doctors assembled in Civic Auditorium. Our present conception of the aging process must be shattered, and our already “brainwashed oldsters” made to see the nature of their ailments. Daily mental and physical exercise practiced with some degree of self-discipline, he said, should raise the life-expectancy figure ten years in one generation.
He spoke of the fatal concept that debilities come with age, and that at sixty-five one is “over the hill.” If accepted, this condemns one to a period of ever-narrowing horizons, until the final sparks of living are the psychoneurotic concerns with the workings of his own body. Dr. Swartz, an internist who spent four years with the Mayo Clinic, is over sixty, but lean, vigorous and fit-looking.
In his speech and also in an interview, Dr. Swartz stressed the new concept that time is a measure, not a force. Aging, although it represents an accumulation of time units, is also a measure, not a force. He was not concerned with just prolonging life, but with enhancing and deepening it. The mere consumption of oxygen,” he said, is not enough. The question is, what are we doing with this lifegiving stuff?
Daily exercise, the doctor declared, is imperative. By exercise he did not mean golf, bowling, or housework, because most people do not exert themselves enough in these endeavors. Walking is fine exercise, if we walk energetically, but not if we just shuffle along. As for the forgetfulness and confused mental conditions associated with age, he believes that they result largely from lack of attention and failure to concentrate, also from loss of motivation. But this is I preventable if we encourage some habits of study learned in school. Serious reading and thinking should be a part of one’s daily life.
If we do not do these things, the doctor said, the result is a narrowing of our mental horizons, to the point where we are no longer interested in ideas, and we spend our time talking about the various aches and pains in our body. He had many patients who took up new endeavors, such as painting, literature, and science, well into their seventies and eighties.
Dr. Swartz also said that “Retirement by the clock is totally untenable from the physician’s standpoint.” The situation varies considerably from industry to industry, but when individuals have grown with the years, retirement is a waste of human resources. Often, he said, it reverses everything physicians attempt—that is, the preservation of life— and takes away a man’s reasons for living.
It is plain that there are medical scientists of our time who not only approve of man’s eternal dream of finding some means of overcoming age and regaining youth, but who are busy investigating and studying ways and means of making this dream a reality. They urge us to realize that we must correct our beliefs about years being the cause of aging. This is fundamental.
For many years now, metaphysical schools such as Unity have taught that old age was the result of a false belief about oneself. Yet most religious people believe age to be a law of God, and the 90th Psalm is quoted to support this view. But this Psalm, which reads:
“The years of our life are threescore and ten, or even by reason of strength fourscore; yet their span is but toil and trouble;. . .”
was written by a man who lived to be one hundred and twenty years old! Not only that, but the Scriptures say of Moses, who wrote this Psalm: “Moses was a hundred and twenty years old when he died; his eye was not dim nor his natural force abated.” There is no evidence that Moses suffered any loss of strength, either bodily or mentally, from living half a century beyond “threescore and ten.”
Caleb, one of the spies sent by Moses into the Promised Land, was eager to embark on the conquest of it when the spies returned with their report, but he and Joshua were overruled by the fears of the others. Caleb spent forty-five years in the wilderness, and at the age of eighty-five, five years past the Psalm’s limit of life, Caleb declared: “Lo, I am this day eighty-five years old. I am still as strong to this day as I was in the day that Moses sent me; my strength now is as my strength was then, for war, and for going and coming.” Think of that! A man of eighty-five, who according to the 90th Psalm should be as good as dead, was as strong as he had been at forty. He was still able to engage in the fierce hand-to-hand combat of war customary at that time. No shaking hand or doddering gait for him!
Joshua, the great military leader who succeeded Moses and led the children of Israel into the Promised Land, did not concede to old age until he was well over a hundred years old. He died at one hundred and ten, thirty years beyond Moses’ time limit. But did Moses really mean that God had set a limit on mail’s life, of seventy or eighty years? Or did he imply that man’s span of seventy or eighty years was short because of man’s sins? Here is the Moffatt translation of part of the 90th Psalm:
“thou dost expose our sins
and layestst our guilty secrets bare:
our days droop under thy displeasure,
our life is over like a sigh.
Our life is seventy years at most,
or eighty at the best;. . .
Yet who weighs the full weight of thy displeasure?
Which of us dreads thine anger?
Oh teach us so to count our days,
that we may take it to heart.”
Is he not saying: “Teach us to know that the shortness of our life is due to Your displeasure at our sins; this is why we only live seventy or eighty years at best!” If this interpretation is correct, then a righteous man like Moses would fulfill the natural life span of one hundred and twenty years set down in Genesis ... which is just what Moses did! May not our modern doctors be supported by these ancient Scriptures when they say that time of itself has no power to age us? It is our belief in the power of time that does the harm.
But superstitions die hard, because they are deeply entrenched in our racial subconscious mind, and everyone of us inherits his share of the racial subconsciousness that believes in aging. Oliver Wendell Holmes said, “We are all tattooed in our cradles with the beliefs of our tribe.” It is easy to understand how we get this belief that the passing of time makes us older. Parents are always telling us our age, and every period of life finds us believing that we are getting old.1
A little boy of three experienced his first sunburn. After a few aays his nose and face began to peel. His mother saw him looking at himself in the mirror, and heard him lament, “Only three years old, and wearing out already!”
We laugh at his reasoning because it is based on the limited knowledge of a child’s experience. But this in turn illustrates what Justice Holmes meant by saying that we are all “tattooed in our cradles” with tribal beliefs. The deep-seated racial belief in wearing out, in getting old, was already showing itself in his thinking.
This same little boy, if he continued to express the inherited belief in the power of time to cause aging, might shake his head in disbelief at the swift passage of time when he became twenty-five years old. He would probably look back at his “vanished youth” at thirty, and think with dread of the cold shadow of forty approaching. At fifty, like most men, he would wish he could “turn back the speedometer.” He would feel the first pangs of fear of becoming old, and (consciously or unconsciously) he would begin to accept the notion of being old. The man of seventy, however, thinks of fifty as a youthful age.
Is the man of seventy any more justified in feeling he is worn out than the little boy was at the age of three? There is no exact scientific standard as to what constitutes age. Donald G. Baker, writing in the book “Behind the Dim Unknown,” says, “It is a common experience to observe young men who are ‘old,’ while chronologically older men may appear younger.” Dr. John H. Heller, speaking at a conference on geriatric medicine, said: “We suspect that aging is programmed in a genetic clock. By this 1 mean that every species we know anything about ... has an average lifetime .... These life spans seem fixed; it is as though there were a genetic clock, which at time X, more or less, turned itself off and that is that.”
On the other hand, those doctors who hold that time of itself has no power to age the human body, but that it is belief in the aging influence of time that does the harm, might conceivably name this genetic clock “Belief.” A belief is an inner, subconscious acceptance of an idea as being true. Belief is a form of faith. And as Jesus said, “According to your faith be it done to you.” If we believe in the power of time to age us, we are having faith that it will age us. And it will be done to us according to our faith.
Larry Lewis, still working every day at the age of one hundred and one, running nearly seven miles every morning, lifting a two hundred and twenty pound man for fun, keen-witted and active; Hockenjos driving his car up to the age of ninety-six; Moses at one hundred and twenty with keen eyes and undiminished faculties; the little boy worrying about wearing out at the age of three ... all illustrate the power of human belief. And belief is a factor of the mind, isn’t it? So we can only talk intelligently about renewing our youth and avoiding considerations.
So far we have been considering the matter of man and the problem of age from a purely physical standpoint. But this viewpoint is of course far too limited. Man is much more than the physical apparatus through which he functions, though he seems to be only this when we know him according to our sense perceptions. Man is vastly greater, more complex. Alexis Carrel, the great surgeon and biologist, said: “Man is simultaneously a material object, a living being, a focus of mental activities. He appertains to the surface of the earth, as do trees, plants, and animals. But he also belongs to another world, a world which though enclosed within himself, stretches beyond space and time.”
So if we are to give a truly intelligent and comprehensive summary of the art of cultivating permanent youthfulness, we shall have to consider man not just as a physical being, who is born, matures, ages, and dies like the animals, but also as the embodiment of a soul, which in turn is the embodiment of a deathless, divine, eternal spirit. Only the consideration of man from this broad and inclusive standpoint can truly answer the perplexing questions that arise concerning his physical means of expression.
Therefore we must discuss this whole problem of aging and its overcoming from the true, more representative viewpoint of man as a threefold being, consisting of spirit, soul, and body. The third chapter deals with the question of time from a nonmaterial viewpoint.
We should begin to cultivate this new scientific viewpoint that time of itself has no power to cause aging. The first step is to use the erasing power of denial.
Here is a simple statement which will serve to erase from your mind the superstitious belief in growing old: Time of itself has no power to age me.
If you will fix these nine words in your mind and memory by concentrating your attention on them periodically, they will have a definite effect. Your mind has in itself the power to dissolve any thought or belief it wishes to repudiate. This is called denial. If you will faithfully impress upon your mind this new concept that time ol itself has no power to age you, gradually you will find that belief in time as the cause of aging will seem ridiculous to you. You will no longer be governed by it.
Even then, continue to use this statement in connection with the mental exercises and affirmations in succeeding chapters. It is one of the key ideas in this book, and you should make sure you have adopted it as yours. Some people think that concentration upon such a statement, and repetition of it silently or audibly, is childish, and beneath them. But most of the great religions and spiritual disciplines of all time have used this principle of concentration through repetition, and it appears to be the easiest way tor the average person to change his thinking on a certain point, ana keep it changed.
Remember, the true question is never, “How old are you?” The true question is, “How deeply do you believe in the race thought of age?” Remember, age is a question of time.
Let us fix this idea in our mind also: God gives us life, not age. And God does not give us life in little fixed amounts at the moment of birth, not in trickles or dribbles throughout our earthly existence, which finally cease at a time set by some theoretical “genetic clock.”
Universal life energy is radiated into us in prodigious, unlimited amounts, continually and eternally. Life, as I conceive of it, is an omnipresent, universal, radioactive creative energy. It never ceases radiating itself in and through all of creation, through all manifest things.
You and I tune in, pick up, embody, and generate this universal life force in our own special organism, which the Creator provides us with at birth. At present, we are aware of this organism only as a physical body. Someday we shall be aware of it as being much more than that. At that time we shall live in a way which entirely transcends not only our present imagination, but even our boldest dreams of what life could be like.
And in the meantime? Well, there is a good deal of “meantime” for us to deal with before that golden age arrives. Yet we must begin the exciting adventure of overcoming the age belief for ourself, here and now.
So let’s get with it! Let’s get started! The first step is to deny belief in the power of time to age us.
God gives you your life, and the calendar on the wall has no power over God’s life. “With the Lord ... a thousand years [are] as one day.”
Start establishing a new concept of that God-given life that is flowing through your body now. Start thinking of it as life that is free from age. Use these key power thoughts:Time of itself has no power to age me. God gives me only life, not age. I am alive, Thank God. (A-live means literally “In life”).
- “I mentioned Alsop’s preoccupation with age to a woman who has known him since boyhood. She said, ‘When Joe was twenty I was dancing with him one night, and he started looking glum. I asked him what he was thinking about, and he said ‘Getting old. It’s very sad, and very frightening.’ ” Merle Miller, Washington, The World and Joseph Alsop.