Age of Disruption…..
Last Friday night Kathy and I attended a performance of “The Age of Disruption” tour given by a Dr.Bill Thomas. He is a gerontologist who is trying to change the nation’s attitude on aging. It was simple but at the same time deceivingly complex show that consisted of just him and a very talented musician. Sadly there were far too few attendees but undaunted he displayed incredible enthusiasm and most of all honesty.
The gist of his proposal is that TRUTH begets happiness. Sounds simple but the subtleties are profound. Through a series of pictures he demonstrated how we kid ourselves in an effort to forestall reality. We are in essence embarrassed by who we are rather than reveling in it. On the purely physical side we dye, tuck, nip, Botox and implant our way into who we think we should be or at least what our culture thinks we should be.
For instance he showed a female teenager with acne. Then he showed a beautifully adorned and made up model. The most startling contrast was their smiles. The young girl had a sparkle and hope for the future. For the model there was a far off disengaged look that seems to say there is no tomorrow. He then displayed picture after picture of young and old in their natural unmade up state. There were blemishes and wrinkles but one slowly became aware of their true beauty.
The message was striking but more the thought it provoked over several days. I have gone from the simple act of looking in the mirror and saying,”This is what we got”, to pondering about this whole concept of truth in our society today.
In the last week we have seen deceit and deception at Wells Fargo. Think of how far we have come from a simple and trusted place to put your money or start your Christmas Club to behemoths that try to extract every last cent out of a consumer. Not a place to borrow for a house or a car but a clearinghouse for monetizing thousands of those lendings to provide investment vehicles for unsuspecting marks. A far cry from Dick Deatly and the Chatham Trust. We used to play tennis together and were great friends. Now the mega bank exec departs with a $200 million Golden Parachute for his misdeeds or at least lack of leadership.
The national stage has brought the farce of “The Donald and Hilary” to the Broadways of our lives. Show after show they bring standing ovations as they parade each other’s dalliances and underhandedness before our very eyes. We are either numb or complicit in our acceptance. Maybe because they are not alone.
Now this is not a treatise on sin and shame. I am guilty as all of you are but I want you to consider for a moment the breadth of our decline. Lying whether large or small is taken for granted. We fabricate and embellish to make ourselves more important. We have plastic surgery on our bodies and our minds. We say we owe it to ourselves and somehow the real us takes a further and further back seat on the bus.
How about the victim? By changing the scenario ever so slightly we become the unsuspecting prey, the screwee so to speak. We twist details to fit our narrative and the more we retell the details the more we are convinced we are right. Fascinating stuff.
We put on acts. We pretend to be who we are not. Whether we are flashy or downtrodden we take on the persona. Fraud is a nasty word but in so many ways is apt. We become legends in our own minds. Deep down we know who we are but that someone becomes more and more submerged. In some crazy notion we think we feel better, but how can you portray x,y or z on the outside if you are suspect to your self?
This all sounds heavy duty and somewhat distasteful but it is not. Going back to that TRUTH thing, just think about it for a minute. It really is freedom and happiness if we use it as a maxim. When we carry the baggage of living a lie it is tough to keep your story straight. You are always concentrating on being who you are not. That ain’t no fun.
Years ago in fighting depression, I had to take that long look at who I was. I had to take inventory and thank God my assets outweighed my liabilities. Not by much but it was step in the right direction. I said to myself,”You know you are really not a bad guy,warts and all”. It set me on a way to be me and quite frankly have a shitload of fun. I am not perfect by any means but I hope you will agree I am real. Beyond happiness it is a sense of freedom and that is very cool.
I spent last evening with a friend who has incurable cancer. He had gotten the word that morning that time was very short. It was beyond poignant at we sat in his hospital room and just talked for a couple of hours. Actually he talked and I just listened. I don’t know if it was unburdening for him but when I left and waved good bye at the door I think he was content, maybe even happy. In a terribly selfish way I drove home feeling very real.
Whether you are getting older or just getting on, I hope you can experience a bit of TRUTH. I hope you can look at your lot whether good or bad and see it just as life and something to be embraced. Look at the world around you as something to be lived and relished not scorned. Not what the world thinks you should be but who really are deep down inside…for better or worse. And when you look deep I hope you can smile. I do…and that is MY Age Of Disruption.
Ted The Great
Bill Thomas uses the acronym MESH. Make sure you MOVE and are up and about mentally as well as physically. EAT well. Have fun but don’t be unreasonable. SLEEP both at night and during the day. Give your body and your psyche a rest. And HEAL.Doctors and drugs don’t heal us. We HEAL ourselves. Not bad.
In 2014 there were 16 million cosmetic procedures performed at a cost of $13 billion dollars. 92% of this was for women, with breast augmentation being the top expenditure. 224,000 of the surgeries were performed on teenagers. 200,000 men had rhinoplasty.
Simply and broadly put, lying occurs when a communicator seeks knowingly and intentionally to mislead others. There is no scientific data on the prevalence of lying. When asked what do people do? They lie of course. Makes perfect sense.
Bill Thomas has coined a phrase, “Eldertopia” which is a stage beyond adulthood.”. Stop pining for what is already gone.
2. Start searching for the person you are meant to become” I like it.