Forever Young

“All children, except one, grow up…”
~ Peter Pan, J.M. Barrie

Peter Pan has become somewhat of a mascot for the 21st century. We’ve turned into a society obsessed with our youthfulness, and ‘grossed out by old people’. Healthcare companies, marketing-ploys, pharmaceutical giants and researchers spend billions of dollars annually to discover, create, or at least simulate the ‘elixir of youth’.

The Problem of Neverland:

It’s been said that a good lie contains some truth. Nowadays, however, the best lies are told very blatantly. We can convince people to “Eat only hamburgers and stay healthy”. Just gift-wrap the lie in human desires and dreams, and print it next to an image of a Photoshopped supermodel, gorging herself. The look and feel of the ad trumps the content. It’s unbelievable. This is Marketing 101, and works remarkably well, even on educated, thoughtful people.

Even though the human psyche has the ability to make choices about reality irrespective of our senses, it takes effort. Most of us just don’t have the energy to do this. A scent, a glance or a musical tune throws us off. Far from being ‘rational’ creatures, homo sapiens can be, senselessly sensational.

Why Are We stuck in Fantasies:

There’s a rational answer for this irrationality: You can only make sense of the world through your senses: Since birth, you understood reality through smell, sight, hearing, touch, taste buds and even positional receptors. Your senses don’t enhance reality. They are your reality. Daily, your brain is being shaped and sculpted by these impulses, moulding your ideas about life and truth.

If we don’t appoint a gatekeeper to distinguish between virtual and real; between treasures and trash; between authentic and counterfeit, the floodgates of images, sounds, scents and objects hijack our neurons and bend our minds any which way they will.

“But Surely, we can distinguish between fantasy and reality?”

This is only partly true. However, as mentioned in a previous post : your eyes cannot see an optical illusion differently, even if your brain knows it is an illusion. The image looks exactly the same, although you know it to be different. So, what happens now, is an argument between your senses and your mind: your eyes keep sending your brain the same picture of an attractive model, but your brain has to say “No, no, no, no, no, no…” to every light-impulse that comes through. Your senses cannot magically add the wrinkles to a celebrity’s face, which the editor so deftly deleted. This leaves you stuck between your will telling you this, and your senses telling you that.

War between the Will and the Senses:

Unfortunately, your senses have a very loud voice. And your will? Well this depends largely on your beliefs and character. Even worse: with the artillery available to our present-day movie-makers and product-placers, it becomes virtually impossible to distinguish the smokescreens from the real McCoy.

How do we handle this? We need to manage our willpower. The good news is that – just like your body – your willpower can be trained. More about this tomorrow.

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