Wednesday, August 03, 2005

No Need for Dyeing...We're All Dying

If you saw Paul McCartney in his pre-Super Bowl interview on Fox in January, this won't come as a surprise to you.

Nor will you be taken aback if you've seen him at any point in the past fifteen years in photos or personal appearances.

The rest of you might want to brace yourselves.

McCartney has gone public with an earth-shaking revelation and shocking details:
Beatles legend Sir Paul McCartney has confessed he dyes his hair. The singer admitted he tries to maintain his youthful looks by colouring his locks - but has had some dyeing disasters in the past.

The singer, who is married to model Heather Mills, revealed: "Ten years before I met Heather I was thinking about dyeing my hair.

"I tried it in Australia - it looked cool until I went on stage. Then this blue liquid poured down my forehead. Highly embarrassing," he added.

Sir Paul also said he finds it difficult seeing himself as an older man.
To that last statement, as a member of McCartney's aging fan base, I have to say, "We all find it difficult to see ourselves as older people. Get over it, Paulie."

When I first noticed that McCartney was coloring his locks a few years ago, it bugged me a little. While I knew that my favorite Beatle and favorite solo musical artist had always been the most show-bizzy of the Fab Four, there had also always been a down-to-earth realism to Macca and his band. In fact, when I took the time in later years to analyze why the Beatles had so dazzled me back when I was ten and first saw them on The Ed Sullivan Show, I decided that the main reason was that, unlike all the musicians I'd heard up to that point in my life, they sounded so real, so accessible, so organic. In the intervening years, the only time I've ever been thoroughly disenchanted with McCartney was when he released overproduced schlock in the early-80s.

It seemed like something of a paradox for Mother Nature's Son to dye his hair or to try to hide the fact that he, like the rest of the human race, was aging.

Better than that sort of denial, it seems to me, is the attitude of a high school friend, expressed to me last Sunday when my wife and I met her and her brother for lunch. "Mark," she told me, "I'm just glad that we're still alive." Leaving aside the theological point that I intend to be alive for eternity, I agree with my friend. I've decided to not let aging get me down.

Yet McCartney's feelings are understandable. In his book, Prayer is Good Medicine, physician Larry Dossey--who I seem to be quoting a lot lately--notes:
One of the greatest burdens we carry is the certainty that life will end tragically in death. This fear rests on our belief that time flows, much like a river, and that it carries us irreversibly toward extinction. Death awaits everyone; nobody escapes the ravages of time.
Dossey goes on to point out that some contemporary physicists believe that time isn't linear, not composed "of successive units such as seconds, minutes, and hours." Instead, in the words of string theorist John Hagelin, "The only natural unit of time is Eternity."

The Bible agrees with the physicist. Time and its ravages--including greying ex-Beatles and fifty-one year old preachers whose knees creak as they ascend stairs--are encroachments on the way things are supposed to be for us and the rest of creation. No wonder we can't quite get used to this aging thing!

But, speaking for me, I can't see coloring my hair, getting face lifts, or having tummy tucks, either. Although I'm dying, I won't be dyeing.

We're all aging and no amount of false advertising can stop the universal clock from moving forward...or fool anybody.

I choose to handle the aging process in two ways.

First: I accept it. Good things do come with age. If you're paying attention to your lifetime of mistakes, there's wisdom. If you're open to them, there's an expanding coterie of friends and colleagues to accompany you through life. With family members, there can be relationships that deepen over time. With work and hobbies, there is the possibility of heightened mastery and deeper fulfillment. Too many people are trying to capture their past, whether their views of it are idealized or realistic. Better to let the future capture us...and when it does to find us living the moment to its fullest.

Second: The Bible teaches that those who follow Christ, the Eternal Lord, are "aliens and strangers" in this world. I take that to mean that we're not just alien from the world's self-aggrandizing, navel-gazing, power-grabbing, approval-addicting values. We're also alien to this whole time thing. We're eventually heading for a place where we will receive a complete cosmic makeover.

So, I will live this moment to the fullest, but I won't try to desperately wring blessings from it. I will also try to give and be blessings to others. After all, those with faith in Jesus Christ have an eternal supply of that good stuff to give!

UPDATE: You may want to check out the brief addendum I wrote for this piece.

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