Shagging and sugar, TikTok and guts
(No. 71) Stepping outside of the comfort zone, by Stephen P. Williams
A friend from the north shares a story about his father-in-law:
“About ten years ago my wife’s father, who was in his nineties and lived a long drive away from us, called to say he was very worried because he’d lost so much weight that he was emaciated. My wife flew to see him, and took her “fragile” father to see his doctor. The doctor weighed him, and he was exactly the same weight as he’d been for the past twenty years. The doctor prescribed a new set of batteries for the bathroom scale. My father-in-law recovered INSTANTLY!!”
Sex in the Old Grey Lady
Photo by Taras Chernus on Unsplash
Sex. Shagging. Old people doing it. Uh oh, I just crossed a line. Talking about old people having sex is kind of freaky to anyone who isn’t old — even to many of us who are. How do we deal with the wrinkles, the baldness, the arm fat that sways back and forth when we point to our lovers across the smoky room?
The photographer Marylin Minter shot florid photographs of older people looking hot and bothered for The New York Times (aka: the Old Gray Lady). Click on the photo, below, to see five or six others. Or check out the entire article by Maggie Jones here, and learn some positives (and a few negatives) about what happens to our sex lives as the moons flow by.
Photograph by Marylin Minter for The New York Times.
You are what your gut biome eats
For a couple of years I’ve subscribed to Azeem Azar’s amazing newsletter, Exponential View, which offers insightful takes on society and technology, with a heavy dose of climate change reality (the reality is not looking good). This week he has a fascinating discussion with the founder of ZOE, a company that uses AI to supposedly give people fine-tuned and accurate advice about what to eat for optimum health, based on what bacteria and other stuff live in a person’s gut. Since foods influence the types of bacteria that thrive in our digestive system, ZOE suggests those that will help improve a particular individual’s gut health. The idea is that this will help reduce inflammation throughout the body, which would have a whole host of anti-aging benefits, and also help people sleep better, feel more energized, and even lose weight.
It works like this: Zoe sends you a box with instructions on collecting various poop samples, and tracking your blood glucose levels. That data is referenced against similar samples from thousands of people. Then they suggest your best diet.
Do you long to do something new?
Social media all stars. Photo by camilo jimenez on Unsplash
I recently joined an expensive, year-long course in how to use social media effectively for business. I’ve always enjoyed casual Instagram posting, but have found it challenging to try to use social media to promote something I write, or a company I’m trying to build. So now I’m taking a leap, pushing my boundaries, and learning how to do it -- sort of. So far, I’ve realized that in the past when I’ve tried to promote something, such as this newsletter, I haven’t approached it naturally, with the desire to express my true self. But that’s exactly what I’m trying to do now. So far, I’ve made a fool of myself, of course — I’m learning as I go, with the idea of progress, not perfection. Also, f*ck the haters. But I’ve also learned that it’s kind of fun to step outside my comfort zone. Check out my new stephenspeople Instagram and TikTokfeeds. If you’re on TikTok, do a duet with one of my posts!
I came across a couple of other people this week who are stepping outside their comfort zone in middle to late age.
In Australia, Emma Wainwright had not done anything wild since the peripatetic days of her youth. A little bored, she applied by mail for a waitress job in a new town. When she got it, she sold her land, took an unpaid leave from her teaching job, and moved, at age 52.
In Wales, Tina Leverton made a bold move, herself:
“I feel like I’m 22”
I don’t generally respond well to people who claim to know how to turn back the clock. I’m 63 (I turn 64 this month -- shout out to all the Aquarians, they know who they are, what they are, and how they are, even if no one else can make sense of them), and that’s how old I feel. Sure, my 63 might be different from your 63. But just as I don’t believe in the extreme “feels like” temperatures thrown out by weather forecasters to rile us up, I don’t buy the idea that 60 is the new 20, or whatever. (In fact, sometimes it seems like 20 is the new sixty, just saying.) Here’s an interesting opinion story about turning 60.
As a public service, I would like to offer this warning: The TikTok algorithm will very quickly make a shockingly nuanced survey of your likes and dislikes, based on the videos you watch or “heart.” Within a few days you’ll be seeing content that reveals your innermost, and often most hidden desires. I started playing around with it a week ago, with an @stephenspeople “aging newsletter” account. The first day, it sent me many videos of women over 50 who felt they looked and acted more like 40, 30 or even 20, along with many grey-haired, bearded and virile men who drove wildly expensive supercars or devoted themselves to splitting logs in lumberjack contests. Interesting, but not really my jam. Within days my feed was filled not only with aging people, but also with philosophy presentations, dumb pranks, homesteaders building rough-hewn houses in the woods, stoic dudes cooking pancakes and steaks over campfires, and cult leaders in training with “visioning” exercises that will change my life. Plus, super-yachts and long distance swimmers. Wow. I feel I’ve been turned inside out by the algorithm and exposed to myself. I’m going to embrace it.
Here is the TikTok I made in about 5 minutes featuring all the illustrations from today’s newsletter.
From the desk of
Selfie on the Maine coast, by Self
Hello everyone. Glad you are here.
I’ve lost 25 pounds since this photo was taken last October. When I was diagnosed with a hiatal hernia, I realized I had to take that task seriously. So I have, mostly by cutting out sugar and refined carbs, along with intermittent fasting (most days eating only during an 8 hour window from about 11 am to 7 pm). It’s a slow process. I really can’t remember gaining the weight in the first place, but I won’t forget the effort it has taken to lose it. And I have a ways to go before my belly will quit aggravating this hernia. But that will happen by summer, I’m sure.
As I mentioned last week, I’m adding a paid offering from Stephen’s People in the coming weeks. The bi-weekly newsletter will continue to be free, but paid subscribers will get additional news, videos, stories and more interesting stuff, plus discussion boards. I hope all of you will subscribe, and anyone who isn’t able to swing a subscription should just let me know, and a gift subscription will come your way. More concrete info in next week’s offering.
I love to hear from you all. Please forgive me if I forget to reply — it’s so easy to misplace things in this sometimes chaotic world. I appreciate every time someone reads my words, and comments on the thought.
Yours in aging well. Stephen