Last week at the gym, my wife noticed another woman vigorously working out with weights and fitness machines. Given the level of her exertion, my wife asked why the exceptional effort. She said she was working on her “virtual age”. She had taken a physical examination that indicated she had achieved a virtual age ten years younger than her chronological age. She was very proud of this and wanted to maintain it. She believed it to be the result of keeping fit and working out at a level commensurate with her virtual age. The measure of her success to her trainer or physician would be her physique. The measure to my wife was her sense of dominion and drive, mental qualities.
February is National Senior Independence Month, and it goes without question that many “Seniors” are very active and work to keep themselves fit and independent. Who wouldn’t work to keep themselves active and alert, exemplifying health and freedom from limitations associated with aging? Sensible diet and exercise are norms today.
The Arizona retirement system provides a program called “Silver Sneakers”, which allows “Seniors” to belong to a gym without charge. The State asserts that providing this benefit is a savings to health care costs. Again, the focus may be on maintaining one’s physique but the impetus starts with the motivation to expand one’s life. Maybe it is driven in part by fear of aging and its various claims of decline and disease, but those that I encounter appear to be just as driven by friendships and a sense of community…a gathering youthfulness.
All of this coming together and exercising or engaging in other vigorous activity on the slopes or the bike trail, speak to the individual’s desire to maintain dominion over his or her life, which includes thought and body. For me, these two things are really one…dominion over my thought results in dominion over my body. Could the friend I speak of in the first paragraph be exhibiting a life ten years younger than chronological data, if she didn’t first have the thought of pursuing such a goal? And would she maintain such a regimen if she didn’t find freedom, dominion, and a sense of joy increasing as a result?
If this kind of thought and action brings a change from chronological to virtual age, what kind of change would we begin to see in our life if we moved our thinking from virtual age to agelessness, to a more eternal sense of being. Where could one begin? Here is a thought from a book I turn to regularly for inspiration, Science and Health, by Mary Baker Eddy, which states, “Let us…shape our views of existence into loveliness, freshness, and continuity, rather than into age and blight” (p.246). This sentiment is not new, of course. There are many Biblical examples of “Seniors” staying fit and expressing the continuity of life. Abraham and Sarah began a family in their later years (Genesis 18). Jesus proved life to be eternal and he stated his presence was for us to realize that we could have life more abundantly (John 10:10).
These thoughts crack open the way to move from submitting to chronological age, to understanding that age is governed by our thought, which, with right activity, can progress to virtual age and, ultimately, to a realization that we can live a life of “freshness and continuity”, independent from age generally and the decline with which it is associated. Go virtual, and then go eternal.