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媒库文选 | Riding High Into the Sunset 笑迎夕阳

媒库文选 | Riding High Into the Sunset 笑迎夕阳

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参考消息网4月18日报道 Jake Kasdan's 2019 movie “Jumanji:The Next Level” opens with returning hero Spencer already at low ebb—he's lonely at college, browbeaten at work and sharing his bedroom with Grandpa Eddie. But the thing that pushes him over the edge,driving him back into the dangerous alternate reality of the movie's title, is the idea that life's inevitable decline has already begun.

“Getting old sucks,” Eddie says, as he fiddles with the portable oxygen machine on his bedside table. “Don't let anybody tell you any different.”

Social psychologist Becca Levy spends much of “Breaking the Age Code” doing exactly that, weaving together case studies and her own research to demonstrate that old age doesn't have to suck at all. The expectation that aging means decay, Ms. Levy shows, is actually a major reason it so often does—our negative view of aging is literally killing us.

The first part of the book is so full of flabbergasting results that they become almost monotonous. In 2002 Ms. Levy combined results from the Ohio Longitudinal Study on Aging and Retirement with data from the National Death Index to reveal that, on average, people with the most positive views of aging were outliving those with the most negative views by 7.5 years—an extraordinary 10% of current life expectancy in the United States.

Ms. Levy leavens this research summary with portraits of inspiring elders, from the actor who started memorizing the whole of “Paradise Lost” when he was 60, to the 91-year-old nun who runs triathlons. She also shows the scientific method at work, as when she describes how statistical analysis helped her establish that positive age beliefs bring better health—instead of the other way around—and how lab results demonstrated that those who were exposed to positive age beliefs walked faster and with better balance.

In the second part of “Breaking the Age Code,” Ms. Levy steps out of the lab to examine the “silent, complex, and often deadly ways” ageism operates in society, and how we can change it. We may be living longer and healthier, but over the last 200 years views of older people have steadily worsened. Ms. Levy blames this shift on the media, the antiaging industry and a “multibillion-dollar‘medical disability complex’”.

Ms. Levy finishes with a vision of paradise: “A place where ageism does not exist.”But this is no idle fantasy, it's Greensboro,Vt. She stops for homemade lemonade with an 81-year-old writer for the local paper and swims at Caspian Lake with a real-estate agent in her 80s. When older people and society around them are “harmonized in a productive way,” Ms. Levy continues, it shows how “aging can become a homecoming, a rediscovery, a feast of life.” Or—as Grandpa Eddie puts it after his adventure has left him closer to Spencer than ever before—“Getting old is a gift.”

在杰克·卡斯丹2019年的电影《勇敢者游戏2:再战巅峰》的开头,前作主角斯潘塞已经处于人生低谷——他在大学里孤单寂寞,工作中受人压迫,还要与外公埃迪共用卧室。但真正让他感到崩溃、驱使他回到危险的“勇敢者游戏”中换一种活法的原因,乃是他觉得人生不可避免的下坡路已经开始。

埃迪摆弄着床头柜上的便携式制氧机,说:“变老就是不爽。其他说法都别信。”

社会心理学家贝卡·利维的《破译年龄密码》一书中有很大篇幅恰恰提出了不同的说法。她把案例研究和自己的调查整合起来,证明变老绝非意味着不爽。利维指出,事实上,衰老往往意味着衰弱的一个主要原因是人们心怀这种预期——我们对衰老的负面看法真的在杀害我们。

这本书的第一部分充斥着令人惊讶的研究结果,多到几乎让人感到乏味。2002年,利维女士结合俄亥俄衰老和退休纵向研究的结果与全国死亡指数的数据揭示,最积极看待衰老的人比最消极看待衰老的人平均多活7.5年——高达目前美国人预期寿命的10%。

利维在研究总结之外还记述了一些励志的老年人。他们之中既有60岁时开始完整背诵《失乐园》的演员,也有参加铁人三项比赛的91岁修女。利维还展示了其中的科学原理,比如她说,统计分析让她确信积极的年龄观念会带来更健康的身体(不是反过来),实验室结果表明,抱持积极年龄观念的人行走更快且平衡感更好。

在《破译年龄密码》的第二部分,利维走出实验室,研究了年龄歧视如何以“沉默、复杂且往往致命的”方式影响着社会,以及我们如何改变它。我们也许活得更长、更健康了,但在过去200年里,人们对老年人的看法持续恶化。利维将这种变化归咎于媒体、抗衰老产业和“价值数十亿美元的‘医疗失能情结’”。

利维最后展望了天堂的样子:“一个不存在年龄歧视的地方。”但这并非空想,它就在佛蒙特州的格林斯伯勒。她与当地报纸一位81岁的撰稿人共饮自制柠檬汁,与一位80多岁的房地产经纪人一起在卡斯皮安湖里游泳。利维写道,当老年人和他们周围的社会“以一种有益的方式和谐相处”时,这就能说明为什么“衰老可以是游子归乡,可以是重新发现,可以是生命的盛宴”。或者——正如在冒险后比以往任何时候都更亲近斯潘塞的外公埃迪所说——“变老是一份礼物”。(卿松竹译自4月10日美国《华尔街日报》网站)

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