The Real Shangri-La Finally Revealed
The quest for immortality or at least cheating death as long as possible has been a humankind trait through the ages. As a child I was entranced by the musical Brigadoon which features (in addition to stars Gene Kelly and Cyd Charisse and direction by Vincent Minelli) a whimsical love story about a land that arises out of the mist only every 100 years. Truer to the idea of Shangri-La is another film that caught me spellbound, Lost Horizon about a secreted community in the hills of Tibet where the inhabitants do not seem to age.
In both situations, the locals of these magical places live peaceful, happy and healthy lives. There seems to be no disagreements, no social distinctions, and a lot of dancing (at least in the Gene Kelly flick). Both of the films are based on novels. Both of the novels were written soon after WWII, so there are obvious moral observations about the devastation of war and the search for peace and harmony post strife, timely topics still today.
We blatantly know that some of the keys to long life are the avoidance of stress, adhering to healthy lifestyle, thinking happy thoughts, etc. However for the average Joe it’s more easier said than done. I happen to come from a matriarchal family. The women on both sides tend to live past 100 years. They are from different lineages and different areas with differently structured lives. What were their secrets? I can’t say (no I really can’t say, they never told me). I’m not sure even they could pin it down. One was devoutly religious, one enjoyed her drink a bit, one grew up in the countryside and had a dozen kids.
But in the following New York Times link, it seems there have been disparate pockets on the globe discovered to support communities of healthy, slowly-aging individuals. I found out that these so-called Blue Zones are creating a movement (though am I surprised in this era of age-defying products being marketed to death?). Explorer and writer Dan Buettner has a team of doctors, scientists, and researchers to promote the concept they’ve determined to be behind this phenomena.
And what is it they’ve discovered? What is the magic panacea? Basically, think happy thoughts and live a happy life. Well quelle friggin suprise. The Secret franchise is making millions off the idea already. But added ingredients to the happy mix, especially of the people cited in the area of this particular NY Times article, are fresh sea air, working with the land, eating fresh grown food, and getting plenty of sleep. Who wouldn’t be happier, more or less?
Personally, the idea of living over a century seems dreary and disappointing. Admittedly past my thirties, I’m already becoming impatient with my body not springing back like a 20 year old. I can’t imagine slowly adapting to diminishing eyesight, hearing, then even basic bodily functions. Not to mention the falling away of relatives, friends, and loved ones.
However if it does indeed happen that I also have the female longetivity gene of my family, I’ve decided I’d like to live it out in one of these Shangri-Las (Costa Rica would be my first choice)…with other ancients…having a grand old time until the sun sets.