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Long-term Investment

So, just back from the magical world of Africa Burn, where my friend Casper shared this piece of wisdom with me: “Trying to find the mind is like looking for the footprints of birds in the sky”. There, with the vastness of the African skies above, at night a dome of magni cent stars, I thought a lot about matters of the mind. Wonderful conversations inspired many thoughts around the medicalisation of ageing. Camping opposite a theme camp called “The Tankwa Retirement Village” was pure irony, not at least because many people said the picture on the logo looked like me.

With my white beard, I heard many comments being made about my age. I loved it. I love being the older person that I am. I feel the changes that ageing brings – amongst others that I have learned to not give a damn about being old. Turning fifty is a magical transformation, and I am told that it gets better and better. Yet, there is a worldwide frenzy to slow down ageing. And an even bigger frenzy to curb the ageing of the brain. Why should our brains, not age?

The ageing brains presents us with a radical change in perspective. We start to see the bigger picture, the ability to look inward, to contemplate. And for some of us, to detach. We let go of the inhibiting filters and minimise our verbal communication. This silence, when distrusted and misinterpreted by the world can be very disconcerting. Or it can be bliss.

When will the world learn to stop trying to prevent this transition? Why do we need to medicate and pathologise ageing to the point where it becomes a disease? If the world would gracefully accept ageing in all its different nuances, embrace its idiosyncrasies and nurture those who age with difficulties, our world would be a better place for many people.

I do believe that we need to start investing in our own ageing much earlier. We need to invest in the old person that we want to be before it is too late. If we disconnect from the outside world and our inside world is bleak, the journey will be long and lonely. Start building your inner sanctuary, decorate it well, and make it a place where you would like to rest your weary bones and lay down your head. Fill it with memories and the softness of friends. Make sure that is filled with enough music for the long road to the next destination. And above all, make sure that it is filled with love.

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