A C-B-S Way Of Understanding Our Own Aging

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            It has been a very interesting winter. In person travel has sprung back and so in the last months we’ve have three road trips to congregations and seminars. Lots of very interesting people from a variety of faiths and perspectives. While airports and airplanes may leave something to be desired, the interaction with people face to face still provides one with the satisfaction of immediacy.

            There is no doubt that things have shifted a little in the post Covid (It is post Covid, right?) world. There is, however, some valuable take-aways from these road trips, a message that came through clearly and one this is important to share with our Jewish Sacred Aging community. I was honored to be with a wide cross section of people whose ages ranged from the fifties to nineties. They were all active and interested, even tough, for some, their physical issues may have been a concern. Why this was important is the on-going (and sure to be elevated) discussions on ageism that is growing in the country, and around the world.

            What was true is what I am calling the C-B-S view of aging. It has nothing to do with the network. Basically, it is an idea, not original by any stretch, that each of us is an individual and that any attempt to lump all people together may be folly. This theory focuses each of us on three aspects of our own aging.  Again, it is very individual. The basic idea is that at any one time we have a chronological age, a biological age, and a spiritual age. Some of this is more scientific and measurable, some of this is purely subjective and very personal.

            Each of us has c chronological age. We are “X” number of years old. There is not much we can do about that. However, to say that just because someone is, say, 79, they can do this or cannot do that may be very mistaken. In that sense, age is just a number, just a factor of the year you were born, and that is all! Our biological age, however, may be very different. Each of our bodies ages differently and is a result of factors such as genetics, lifestyle, the randomness of illness, environment etc. I am sure those who are reading this know people who may be 85 yet their bodies, their “biology” is much younger; while someone the same age or years younger has a body that has severely limited them. We can influence this, in many ways, as tons of studies have shown, by making certain life choices.

            The most subjective aspect of this theory is, of course, the spiritual age. Also, you know people of a certain age who, when asked about this, may turn around and say something like: “but I feel like I am 40”. This in many ways reflects the desire to engage in the world, to keep learning and growing in all phases of life. This may be the key to aging in a healthy and positive way. One may be of a certain age and have physical limitations, but their spirit remains open to the continuous unfolding of life.  How do you measure these three issues for you?


Rabbi Richard F Address

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