Tussilago

April 14, 2011

Ageing is a concern that is very close to the heart of many of us. It is, I believe, the greatest fear of our current century. It is the greatest fear of humanity. To fear old age is part of being human.

The holy grail of humanity would thus be to find the fountain of youth; the spring that contains the potent waters able to wash age away to restore youth to its former glory.


Image by Lucas Cranach the Older, 1546. From Wikipedia.

The fear of ageing is thusly the essence of vanity; the desire to preserve youth and beauty forevermore. As a human being, I fear this change as much as anyone; though I find it gives me the motivation to find joy in the little: Carpe diem.

The fear of ageing has spawned a multi-billion dollar business, constantly introducing new concoctions onto the market. These are free for everyone to use. As long as they have the money to pay for it…

Recent research has however shown that very few of these “anti-ageing” products are able to overpower the entropy that fuels ageing. I recall hearing long ago that their main purpose is to “look pretty in the jar, and smell good when applied.”

It is superfluous to say that I have little faith in the powers of chemical concoctions in stalling senescence. That being said, I feel it essential to stress that I have faith in faith itself. If people think the pretty products they purchase do work, they derive personal satisfaction in applying them. And I don’t think the power of such faith can be overestimated. The mind can mount any mountain.

As I have watched spring come and go here in London, I have seen the little coltsfoot flower pop up in places, spreading its beaming petals towards the light of the sun. To me, the coltsfoot is the epitome of spring. The flowers appear the golden children of the sun, having dropped onto the ground from the heavens, paying tribute to their mother, glowing in the skies.

Spring is the season of rebirth, of beauty, and of youth. It is when the world is revived and life returns to the barren lands.

I don’t think coltsfoot flowers hold any miraculous powers, but being spring embodied, I think they would make a nice addition to any product claiming the ability of rejuvenation. Not because it would help chase the years away, but because there would be satisfaction in applying spring to forget about mortality — if so only for a while.

I would call that product Tussilago, it being one of the most beautiful words I know. It is also the Latin name for the humble coltsfoot; a pretty name for a sweet flower.