In 1513, a young Spanish adventurer inspired worldwide fascination with his quest for a certain mythical fountain. Exactly 500 years later, our desire for health, happiness and perpetual youth remains surprisingly the same.
While explorers no longer seek actual fountains of life, many people do spend their lives chasing similar mythical promises – just check out the latest health and beauty magazines. So what is it about this idea of eternal youth that still affects us so deeply?
The phrase “Fountain of Youth” first entered modern vocabulary with Ponce de Leon’s search of the Caribbean for an actual fountain, which he believed would extend youth permanently. However, the concept of “healing waters” dates way back: to the ancient Middle East and rumors of healing springs; to Alexander the Great, who sought a magical river of youth; and even to Biblical stories of Jesus healing people with water.
The Fountain of Youth remains fascinating for us today partly because of its rich symbolism. Water is indeed a life-giving force we depend on for survival. Water is an element as old as the Garden of Eden, and for some people it can still seem to have mystical healing properties. For example, people who claim that ocean water cures them of minor ailments or that Dead Sea salt can erase their wrinkles.
Even beyond the philosophical concept of water, people are constantly seeking alternative “Fountains of Youth.” Drug and nutritional companies are quick to label products with youth-restoring descriptions, and diet and exercise programs make seemingly miraculous claims towards “shedding years” off of someone’s appearance.
But in the end, many realize that the stress and anxiety of trying to turn back the clock does more damage to their wellbeing than naturally aging would. People lose the best parts of their lives searching for what lies right in front of them – the chance to enjoy the day at hand, without fearing the future and trying to hold on to the past.
About the Author: Mike McCormick is a subway-surfing writer from New York City with a passion for history, literature, and philosophy. When he isn't writing for the web, you can find him typing novels into his smart phone during rush hour.