Some say, “youth is wasted on the young.” So what if it wasn’t?
What if you didn’t have to dread aging? Your eyesight failing? Your joints aching? Your memory fading?
What if you grew healthier? Sharper? Faster? Stronger?
What if you grew younger instead of older? Would life be better?
From growing pains to compression socks, we’re all familiar with aging. But it’s more complicated than it seems.
When asked how old you are, you probably give your chronological age. That’s how many years you’ve lived, and whether or not you’re allowed to buy fireworks.
And then there’s biological age, which is decided by more than just a number. You know that older person in your town who’s lived through every war but still looks 50? Yeah. And it can go both ways.
But would you rather be young and look old? Or be old, and look young?
Around the time you turn 30, your body enters a deteriorative state known as senescence. This is the fun stage of your life when you start to realize that you can’t do as much as you used to.
Your body can’t endure as much strain, your bone mass stops increasing, your muscle strength starts decreasing, your blood pressure rises because your blood vessels are narrower than they were before, and your pancreas stops secreting insulin, increasing your chances of diabetes.
Your brain’s plasticity isn’t what it used to be either, so learning new things becomes challenging. And on top of all this, your hair turns white.
Now, when this happens to you may depend on a variety of factors. The usual suspects are genes, lifestyle, diet, and environment. But what if you didn’t have to worry about senescence at all? Wouldn’t it be better to just get it over with?
If you were born a wrinkly old prune with cataracts, trouble hearing, a weak bladder, and poor memory, well, odds are you’d be a pretty cranky child. But then again, who isn’t?
The good news is that you’d only grow healthier. If this were the case, people might actually look forward to aging. Of course, you’d have to allow time for your body to gain the strength to walk, run, exercise, et cetera; and for your brain to be able to process and retain information.
Suppose you were born with the body and mind of a 90-year-old. Well, considering that with normal aging, your body starts to decline after age 30, you’d spend a full 60 years aging backward before reaching your full potential.
With normal aging, 90% of your brain develops within the first five years of your life. Which means that very much of who you are, how you learn, and who you grow into, is determined by your early childhood experiences.
So with the situation reversed, are we all just really slow learners and low achievers waiting for the last years of our lives when our brains finally finish developing, and we can finally reach our full potential?
While there’s something really appealing about the idea of watching your body improve over time, growing stronger, and harnessing all your wisdom and life experience to a young body that knows no limits. Well, that’s not quite how it works.
In a real reverse-aging situation, lacking the major brain development that occurs within a child’s first 5 years, life would be very challenging for you, probably for several decades. Think about it.
For most of your life, you’ve got a brain that’s only 10% developed. And by the time you reach full development, you might only have a few good years of unbridled potential until you’re suddenly dependent on others again.
Toward the end of a full life lived in reverse, only three years might really be worthwhile. While that may seem dark, and morbid. It doesn’t have to be.
As with age itself, there are different ways to look at it. Living life backward seems nice because, physically speaking, things seem to keep getting better. But being able to learn and develop a better understanding of life through new experiences each year can make aging quite satisfying.
So if you’re still fretting over finding your first grey hair, don’t worry! Take it easy on yourself. Stay active, eat healthy, and keep learning.
- “Living Life Backwards – The Negative Psychologist”. 2015. The Negative Psychologist. Accessed May 27 2019.
- “Living Backwards Or In Reverse? – By Marlene Buffa”. 2019. trans4mind.com. Accessed May 27 2019.
- “What If We Lived Our Lives Backwards? – Quora”. 2019. quora.com. Accessed May 27 2019.
- “Brain Development – First Things First”. 2019. First Things First. Accessed May 27 2019.