Consider how most of us see the aging of our body in relation to our identity: Most of us try to deny the age of our body in one respect or another. Teenagers want to be older and more mature. They will buy fake drivers licenses with earlier birthdates. They will try to act and look older.
Meanwhile, older adults try to act younger. As we age, we want to be more youthful. And as the years go by, most adults refuse to accept getting old. Adults become surprised at the body’s age as it gets older.
Yes. There is a definite disconnect between our age and our selves.
This is why it's not nice to ask an adult woman her age: She wants to hide her age. She wants to deny her age. And for this reason, "age-defying" products are a billion-dollar business.
This denial of aging is often joked about, but for most people, it is no laughing matter. Most feel embarrassed by our body’s age as we get older. We are faced with an ever-wrinkling body—one that doesn't work as well as it used to.
As children, we are proud of our age, but as the years go by, we become embarrassed by it. We want to distance ourselves from it. This is why so many people cover the face with make-up, cover the gray hair with dyes and wear trendy (youthful) clothes. These are all attempts to hide the body’s age.
Plastic surgeryMany people go to the extreme of having different types of surgery done - in order to achieve a younger looking body. In these cases, the self is in conflict with the visual images of the body. Plastic surgery, botox, hair-removal, hair transplantation, breast enhancement, and many various other medical interventions are all attempts to reconcile our identity with an aging temporary body.
Discomfort with aging indicates we cannot accept that we are these physical bodies. Surgery or other interventions indicate our attempt to reconcile our real selves with the bodies we wear.
The waterfall of agingA person who identifies they are the physical body is constantly faced with another contradiction: The prospect of dying.
Aging and dying are only contradictions if we identify with these physical bodies. It is like identifying with one's automobile. If a person doesn't identify with their car, they will not have any problems when they go do sell the car. They know the car was only a temporary vehicle.
Consider that our bodies are constantly changing - every five years we have completely recycled every atom. This means our body would be compared to a waterfall. A waterfall is made up of constantly changing water. We can look at a waterfall for a minute, turn our back and look back, and the waterfall will be a different waterfall. The water that made up the waterfall before has long fallen and flowed downstream.
Our physical bodies are like this. They are ever-changing. The body we had on as a child is now gone. All those atoms have gone and been replaced by new ones.
The contradiction comes when we identify with these bodies. Which body will we identify with? With the child body we once wore? With the teenager body we once wore? How about the young adult body? Or the middle-aged body?
The reality is that we are none of these bodies. They are simply vehicles we occupy, just as a driver occupies a car.
We are eternalEach of us - the driver of our temporary body - is eternal. We are from the spiritual realm. We are spiritual in essence. Just as the driver of the car is not made up of the car's metals, we are not the physical body. We are not these atoms that get recycled every five years.
In the spiritual realm, there is no time. Time is a feature of the physical realm. Therefore, each of us is eternal.
This is why we are so distraught as we see our body age. We are not used to aging. Aging is unnatural to us because we are eternal.
This is also why every living being struggles for survival. Why, if we were physical machines destined to die, would we try to avoid death? It is because our innate identity does not die: We do not die.
Dying - like aging - contradicts our identity because we are eternal by nature.