Archive for March 30th, 2009

_45430494_dementia_466-1A new study in Britain suggests that a rise in the age of compulsory schooling there some 50 years ago may be responsible for a slow down in dementia rates amongst the elderly today.

Referring to what a Cambridge University Professor calls an “epidemic of dementia”, it is reported that around 700,000 people in the UK have dementia with expectations of the number to rise to 1.7 million by 2051. (More on dementia … fact, figures, treatments, etc. here)

The study suggests that increasing the number of neural connections in the brain in youth, a natural consequence of learning, has benefits beyond just being smarter and more interested and interesting throughout life.

Makes sense to me all the way around. After all, like Doritos in a bag, the more there are to begin with, the later you’re left with just the crumbs.

One issue is, however, the fact that people are living longer, and although the knee jerk reaction to that is usually YIPEE, the reality is less chirpy.

Yes, there are the examples trotted out regularly of the spry 90-year-old kickboxing university professor who just fathered triplets … or something like that … but those people are so far out on the fringes of the normal that, although inspiring, the impression left is misleading.

Being old is hard. It is also uncomfortable, frustrating and frightening. And no matter what, it always ends up the same way.

Why it is that our species, or at least the culture most blog readers share, has a hard time getting their heads around the fact that everybody dies never ceases to amaze me. It is, after all, the one thing we can all count on.

The most basic premise before us all is: No one gets out of this alive.

Pushing the edges of the envelope on this is futile, and although long life sounds dandy to the young and healthy, ask most of the aged how much fun they’re having and the answer will very often be, “not much”.

Exactly what it is about dead that people find so scary and has them attempting to stay off the day is puzzling for me. For one thing, it seems to get in the way of the living part that life is really about. If a person accepts the fact that life is short and then you die, they’d be far more likely to enjoy the time they do have, not procrastinate on happiness and would spend far less precious energy fretting over details that are a waste of time.

In my mind, it’s about quality, not quantity, and if my life turns out to be short in comparison to others … well, I will have given up my seat on this bus, making room for someone else to enjoy the ride.

It is my job to use my time to justify my use of resources, do what I can to make other lives as pleasant as I can and enjoy what can be enjoyed. Not an easy mandate for sure, but that’s life.

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I did some bloggy housecleaning last night and accidentally deleted this post.
Forgive the rerun, but I like it and want to keep it up.

The moon is still a very long way from setting into the Indian Ocean, and so bright that it has dimmed my stars. The Big Dipper … upside-down on this side of the Equator, which is why here it is called the Plow … has lost its usual impact on the night sky, but is hanging before me, indicating, as always, North.

North … roots, history, family, Ernesto. I long for North, and sometimes the pull of that Pole is strong.

It’s the Southern Sky that covers me now, and has for thirteen years. I’ve grown to know it, and on mornings like this during the pause between darkness and dawn, I love it more than I ever recall loving a sky before.

Loving it, I worship.

Straight from my bed perched on the edge of sky, I rise, and naked I stretch out on my balcony and moonbathe. Even this grand and bright, this huge moon’s light brings no heat, unlike the golden sun that waits just over the island to brown my skin with its rays, but it pours through air that is amniotic … warm, wet, all-enfolding … and brushes my body with silver.

I would like to close my eyes and shine, but don’t want to miss a minute of the beauty before me, this gift of light, so I stare in wonder and search the moon’s well-known face that stares back at me and smiles.


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