FOREVER YOUNG?

If the wheels of time cannot be slowed (much less stopped), how do we come to terms with the ageing process? The Rake consulted medical professionals and the shrewdest members of our social circle to build our best cheat code. But here’s a clue: it pays to grow old mindfully as well as gracefully, writes Nick Scott.

Mark Vanderloo, shot for The Rake in 2019.

“No one loathed the idea of getting old more than Dorian, so he wanted to experience everything, constantly reflecting on questions of morality and sin. His biggest wish was that his portrait would age instead of himself.”

The stories humans tell each other reflect our fears as profoundly as our hopes, so it is no surprise that Oscar Wilde’s 1890 Gothic work — his only novel — is but one literary treatise among countless whose core theme is the tormenting brevity of being young. Myths akin to the ‘Fountain of Youth’ idea have sprung up, independently, in different cultures the world over since the birth of storytelling. From Gilgamesh’s fruitless quest for immortality to Peter Pan and Benjamin Button via Faust’s used-car-lot-esque deal with Mephistopheles, fiction tells us that resistance to the onset of age is omnipresent in human history. Ageing clearly remains an existential albatross around our necks. The global anti-ageing market was estimated to be worth about $58.5bn last year — and at least those serums, ointments and unguents make underwear-loosening romantic gifts, unlike the macabre clinical instruments relating to the storage of the deceased in sub-zero temperatures in the hope of reanimation in years, decades or centuries to come (an industry that is estimated to be worth $17.1bn by 2025). So how, here in 2021, are rational, au courant people embracing the inevitable? Is resistance futile? Shouldn’t one instead clasp time’s arrow with both hands and enjoy the ride, rather than taking it in the underbelly?

While David Gandy, at the age of 41, can scarcely be called middle-aged in these times of elongated longevity (life expectancy has tripled in the past 250 years), the model and entrepreneur is sanguine about the effects of ageing. “I suppose I do notice that more and more people have moved on from saying, ‘Wow, what a great picture’ to comments on social media along the lines of, ‘You’re still handsome’, or, ‘You age really well’,” he tells The Rake, laughing. “I’ve never really taken to worrying — and this sounds weird as a model — about my appearance, though. What you see is what you get. And I think I’ve done pretty much everything I can in terms of training and eating well and not smoking to preserve skin and hair and everything else. The only thing that hasn’t been ideal is, I’m a terrible sleeper and I’ve been travelling the world working and have basically been jet-lagged for 20 years. Sleep is one of the most essential elements for well-being, but there’s not much I can do about that one.”

Published

April 2021

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