This week's Time Magazine cover story is a series of extracts from a new book called Healthy Ageing by Professor Andrew Weil. Putting aside the specifics of his advice, I found many of his general observations about Western societies' attitudes towards ageing quite worthwhile... and quite depressing. In a nutshell, he believes current trends towards trying to reverse ageing (in all its manifestations) are futile and counterproductive, not to mention scientifically dubious.

I especially liked his views on the things one can hope to look forward to whilst one ages: "wisdom, depth of character, the smoothing out of what is rough and harsh, the evaporation of what is inconsequential and the concentration of true worth." They reminded me of something a Jewish friend - whose father is a rabbi - told me when Hollywood celebrities' interest in the Kabbalah started making news. She said that as far as she's ever been aware, the study of the Kabbalah was tradtionally reserved for rabbis of a very senior age, as it is only after accumulating several decades of life experience that they are considered to be ready to appreciate the text's meanings. I must say I found this formal acknowledgement of the many benefits of old age quite inspiring, but by the same token I must confess I am dismayed by how this too has fallen prey to the short-sightedness of individualism, youth and consumerism.

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