Before-and-after stories are in abundance these days, showing us how we are becoming younger, leaner, fresher, healthier, stronger, and with nicer clothes. Moreover, we have homes that are either brand new or newly renovated, and of course gorgeous, in addition to fancy cottages, big cars, bikes and boats.
This article, however, is about the full truth, including the part where the “extreme makeover” reporting team has left the scene, the renovation or construction is completed, and the diet is completed. After the party is over, so to speak.
One of Buddha’s great realizations was that it was in his nature to age, get sick and die. Nothing he did could prevent the inevitable outcome. He realized that everything is transient, at least what we can see with the naked eye.
Even the most beautiful movie stars will sooner or later turn into wrinkled old people with alzheimers, unless they die young and turn into symbols of “immortal” beauty.
By focusing on youth and other superficial status symbols we flee from the inevitable. But sooner or later time will prevail, because even the most solid stone statues eventually crumble.
Before-and-after stories are ultimately about compensatory measures!
We can postpone the inevitable by nurturing our bodies well, and we are more or less fortunate with our mix of genes and life events. But beyond this we are simply slowing the natural process of decay.
This does not mean that compensatory measures are without meaning. Without proper maintenance, cautious use, care in the planning process, good habits, and a general awareness of the aging process, the decay happen faster than necessary. We grow old, our buildings decay, the car is scrapped, all turns into chaos, at a faster pace.
At the risk of going too far with the philosophical intricacies; we live our lives in the physical world, and our choices and actions are reflected in it.
Insofar as the before-and-after stories inspire us to live better, as opposed to more superficial, lives, it is awesome! It is surely important to take good care of our health, our fellow man, our buildings, our fellow creatures, and indeed our whole planet!
If we use our welfare as a means to remember the more important things in life they may even contribute to something positive.