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Those silly Europeans should have taken more baths. Historians tell us that white folk murdered and diseased their way to conquest across the world, but it’s pretty obvious that the smell took care of it for them. The poor native people didn’t have the olfactory defenses to cope with sweaty Europeans that spent all their time on ships and riding horses.

Think about it.

Juan Ponce de Leon, king dick and first governor of Puerto Rico, has long been associated with the myth of the Fountain of Youth. While other explorers and conquistadors are known to have searched for it in their travels, only his name has become inseparable from the myth. The interesting bit is that it wasn’t until after the man died that his name became attached to this strange folktale. While there’s no modern historical evidence, there are accounts from various authors who never left Spain claiming that he had found these magical waters.

So what of the fountain itself? While some claimed that Ponce de Leon had found it, none ever say where exactly it was that he had located it, generally only going so far as to say it was somewhere in Florida. But hey, let’s face it, if that thing had been in Florida all the old people here in the States would be flocking the-

Oh my god.

Stories about rejuvenating water have been a part of cultures all across the globe for thousands of years. Water, that life-giving substance we all require to continue our existences, has been, without a doubt, one of the most widely used ritual substances. It has been a source of spiritual renewal, as in the ritual of Baptism, but it has also been spoken of as a means of physical rejuvenation in folktales and religion. There are stories from Europe about a well found at the edge of the world that contained the water of life; water that only the pure of heart could attain. In similar fashion, the Tales from the Arabian Nights also tell a story about water capable of bringing those on the cusp of death back to health. It’s a theme that’s been told and retold in countless ways and always reinforcing the concept of water being an essential component of life in a physical and spiritual sense.

Nowadays, people still search for their own personal Fountain of Youth in shopping malls and beauty salons all over the world. Water, though important, is less a factor than botox, collagen, and dangerous surgery. Every beauty shop, every plastic surgeon, however, makes the same extraordinary claims we’ve been hearing since the dawn of time: they have the ability to make you young again.

It has always been the fear of the young becoming old that has driven the stories and excitement. And why not? On this side of the equation, aging looks terrifying. You get wrinkles, lose your beauty, and become a doddering old fool.

Strange then, that people interviewed in a Gallup poll (340,000 people ages 18 to 85,) should show a very clear trend toward being happier as they get older. While you may lose some of your youthful beauty and heartiness, you also have the opportunity to gain wisdom, knowledge, and insight as you age. People focus so much on youth that they forget about perspective. By focusing on maintaining their youth, most people end up forgetting to live at all and that’s a terrible waste.

If good old Juan Ponce De Leon had actually found the Fountain of Youth, maybe we could all stay young forever, but nobody is quite sure what that world would look like. For now, aging is here to stay and since it’s inevitable, we might as well not worry about it. Instead, why not just lean back and enjoy the ride?

Enjoy your youth while you have it, appreciate it and savor it. When you’re older, you can look back fondly on those years and still appreciate the wisdom and experience you’ve accumulated on a life well lived.

If you’re hell bent on finding that Fountain, I guess you could head on out into those Everglades in a desperate bid for longevity, but I’m pretty sure that story isn’t going to end well.

Crocodiles care surprisingly little for quests of glory.

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