Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Published 6:37 PM by with 0 comment

Afraid of Decay? Don't Be.

Remember to speak with either your general medical physician or with a qualified psychiatrist if you are experiencing severe depression, anxiety or inability to cope with the realities of growing old and dying. This fear has its place in humankind, but only for a very short period of time. Your doctor will be able to help you with this and this blog article will help you between doctor visits.

The Problem:

There isn't a good way of defining the fear of decay that comes with existential depression/depersonalization (and its associate, chronophobia), without reinforcing some of the objects that trigger that fear within those of us who have to suffer it. I wish I could tell you that not all things decay as time goes on, but that just isn't true. Technically speaking, all things eventually decay and die off one way or another. 

With the exception of some possible things in quantum physics (which I don't have enough knowledge to speak on, and if even I did it wouldn't really be helpful here), nothing we've ever observed in this universe ever truly gets "younger". From the moment of its birth, advent or creation, the proverbial hourglass has been set. Entropy on it moves forward. You can reverse entropy on it with the expense of energy (such as spending time and money on a new hair color to make yourself appear "younger"), but this is technically also its own form of destruction since what you're really doing is removing one element and replacing it with another on a micro-scale.

This just brings us back to the inescapable exchange of input/output in all creation - something has to die before something new can come in. A price, a death, a sacrifice or something near it has to be enacted for something constructive can take place. This is true on all micro and macro scales and the everything in existence operates on it.  

That being said, there is quite a bit of good news and perspective to help you with a fear of decay.

The Insight:

It's irrational to be afraid of decay, because decay is really just "change" in a slightly more specific term.

We use the word "decay" to talk about things getting uglier, losing strength, getting close to death and other sort of negative things that are really much more specific in our linguistic and emotional history, so that's what we think of when we become afraid that all around us is decaying. It's actually kind of a complex misnomer because, while things naturally decay, that decay also directly leads to change that ends up solving problems.

Positive examples of decay include:

* Alcohol and wine being required to age and ferment in ways in order to become the products we know them as.

* Same with cheese and certain dairy items.

* Ideas and things that were "ahead of their time".

* Concrete construction from cement.

* Cooking dishes and their individual food ingredients.

* Hindsight - "In retrospect, we dodged a bullet on that one. If it had gone as soon as we expected, it would've been a disaster."

* Changing seasons - most particularly from Winter to Spring and Summer when nature and life is renewed for quite a while.

* Barriers that are in our way would naturally need to weaken so we could pass through them.

Those are just some of the most obvious ways decay is actually good for people. Millions more exist. 

I somewhat suspect that modern man's growing anxiety over decay actually stems from the last several generations reliance on recorded media for everyday life, a concept that produces a weird variation on the reality of decay if one were to think about it, as well as an over-exuberance on scientific processes being successful at solving many of mankind's former sufferings without the knowledge that all things humans can suffer can be solved by science. We wouldn't want that anyway. 

Ultimately, we already, on many levels, know and accept this as part of our objective reality and the fear is actually misplaced. It's not decay we're afraid of, it's the loss of all that's dear to us before we die ourselves. This manifests itself most commonly when people reach certain ages, become existentially aware, and see all their favorite things and people aging around them. Our friends and family get fatter, greyer, their skin droops more, you see more and more imperfections on their skin and being and nothing can change that without some drastic, and typically non-natural, solutions to them.

Again, there's no way to get around that without reinforcing it as a potential trigger, but it does need to be reinforced. You have to accept this as reality in order to begin the process of having it stop harming you. And, again, there are some ways in which you can already begin changing this mindset.

The Relief:

1. All things decay, but decay is required for new things to come into place to begin with. This is the foundation of nature. It's just "change" by a different name. 

2. Decay is not a subject that most people need to emotionally think about all the time in day-to-day affairs. You were perfectly fine with decay before you really understood how it affects everything around us, and that wasn't really wrong. You are overthinking it.

3. Instead of thinking about the technically-accurate-but-not-really-relevant knowledge that all things decay, consider your loved ones and necessary items under "It is ok/available, or is it not"? Something like that. Just because your Grandma is 81 years old doesn't mean she's not pretty much the same loving woman you've been able to enjoy throughout your life. She might even be healthier and happier now than she was 10 years ago. That is far more relevant to your reference than microscopic, biological decaying terms.

4. Not all things decay at the same rate at the same time. It is therefore logically impossible and inadvisable to think about it because, for the most part, there is no relevant, fundamental information that you should base those worries on. 

5. See nature around you. While we don't know how much insects, animals and non-humans know about the reality of decay, it doesn't stop nature from going on. Autumn and Winter killing off things doesn't stop Spring and Summer from bring new plants, trees, animals and insects in. Mountain ranges on our planet are older than recorded civilizations and they decay, but they're still largely the same now as they were then. Nature being in constant decay does not mean everything around us is going bad. Growth and newness continues on alongside it. 

6. Decay, as it applies to us in an emotional sense, is also not linear. You can be 88 years old and still build muscle, strength and agility to your body by working out at the gym. It's not about turning back the clock, it's about improving the quality of life while you have it. 

7. This is the primary reason so much basic inspirational philosophy tells you to "concentrate in the present". You need to know that things eventually decay and you need to think responsibly about your age and the upcoming future, but there's only so much future you can see and plan for at a time. Worrying about the future is literally giving yourself pain because you know you will have pain in the future. That is illogical and inadvisable. Find a balance between thinking of the future and appreciating the present that works for you.

8. As is a common theme in these articles by now - remember that you have reincarnated many times before, you've already done this quite a bit before and the worst that happened was you died, which was going to happen anyway. You are going to be ok and your friends, family, loved ones and loved items are going to be ok as well. 


"Each night, when I go to sleep, I die. And the next morning, when I wake up, I am reborn."
― Mahatma Gandhi

"We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty."
― Maya Angelou

"No one can lose either the past or the future - how could anyone be deprived of what he does not possess? ... It is only the present moment of which either stands to be deprived: and if this is all he has, he cannot lose what he does not have."
― Marcus Aurelius

"Frightened of change? But what can exist without it? What's closer to nature's heart? Can you take a hot bath and leave the firewood as it was? Eat food without transforming it? Can any vital process take place without something being changed? Can't you see? It's just the same with you - and just as vital to nature."
― Marcus Aurelius

"In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life: it goes on."
― Robert Frost

“It’s [old age] not a surprise, we knew it was coming – make the most of it. So you may not be as fast on your feet, and the image in your mirror may be a little disappointing, but if you are still functioning and not in pain, gratitude should be the name of the game.”
― Betty White

“Aging is not the process of making you old and ugly, aging is the process of making you bold and beautiful”
― Dr.P.S. Jagadeesh Kumar

“For age is opportunity no less
Than youth itself, though in another dress,
And as the evening twilight fades away
The sky is filled with stars, invisible by day.”
― Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

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