Sponges age like Vietnam veterans

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When sponges age they also go grey. Do we share a gene with them?

This image above reminds me of the opening and closing scenes of Platoon, the fresh-faced sponge arrives in Vietnam, down on his cheeks, as he’s passed by a gnarled veteran on his way out, his mind, body and face all utterly changed by experience.

Ageing. My generation’s ageing. We’re noticing the little white hairs appearing, the lines that don’t go away when you stop smiling, the knee that still hurts hours after having stopped exercising. White teeth that went yellow, fillings that became crowns.

That’s one aspect.

The grandparents went long ago, but for many of my generation already, at least one if not both parents have also gone. That means we’re next.

That’s another aspect.

Some of us have gone already, accidents and disease scythed from the living, and no-one could stop it. But we’re entering the realm of age where other things that we do to ourselves all these years, things we knew were bad but never thought the consequences would come upon us, … well we’re at the age when those consequences move from things that happen to other people to things that will start happening to us. Don’t be surprised, indeed, one will now get good odds on betting something will happen.

That something is that what’s going to kill you.

And the timeline is tangible.

There is an end in sight.

I thought of a friend and realised he’d been smoking for nearly 3o years now, and even if he stops now, it might well be too late. And I wondered if in fact it’d be smokes that’d kill him. And I thought … yes, in all probability, it’ll be the cigarettes that kill him, and possibly before the decade is out, he’ll keel over as his heart jams up.

 

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