I’m a fan of hanging around as long as possible

“Age is not a particularly interesting subject. Anyone can get old. All you have to do is live long enough.”

― Comedian Groucho Marx 1890-1977

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The iconic comedian who died 43 years ago may have been onto something. A book I stumbled onto recently titled “The Longevity Project” proposes one in 10,000 people are “slow agers” and categorizes them as someone for whom the odds favor reaching 100. I’m not sure what the speed at which one reaches any given age has to do with getting there so long you make it. However it’s done, I’m a fan of hanging around as long as possible. And to the end, I’m happy to report, “So far, so good.”

As for age not being a particularly interesting subject, Groucho didn’t address the fact that the older we get the more interested we become. I’ve never felt as old as what I assumed someone my age should feel. When my parents were the age I am now, I regarded them as “really old.” In fact, when my father reached the age I am now, he had been retired for ten years. Me? Not even considering retirement. My goals for 2020, what’s left of it once COVID-19, social unrest, and an election is through beating up on it, includes learning to play the piano and starting a new business.

At an age when I see others checking things off their bucket list, I keep adding to mine, scratching one off while adding two more. At 64 I got around to learning to play the guitar. With the piano in my sights for a couple of years now, I will get there too provided that I can keep “aging slowly.”

Honestly, I don’t know what one does to age slowly. Maybe it’s related to my recollection as a youngster that waiting a year for Christmas, a birthday, or the last day of school seemed like an eternity. Today, those years are like weeks and weeks like hours. I’m thinking it’s the percentage of life a year represented then as compared to now. At 10, one was 10-percent of our life. These days, for Baby Boomers like me, it’s dropped to about 1.4 -percent: a little stressful when you think about it.

And speaking of that frightful nemesis called stress, current data reports that a certain amount of worrying is “healthy,” just don’t overdo it. So, how much is too much? Apparently, it’s all about being optimistic. Some smile knowing the glass is half full while others stress thinking it’s half empty. The way I try to look at life is the proverbial glass is always full: half beverage and half air—both essential elements for a happy life.

Considered essential by some for happily aging slowly is also lifestyle. My paternal grandfather worked outdoors all his life, carried a can of Prince Albert tobacco in his pocket, smoked “roll your own” cigarettes, and ate fried eggs and bacon for breakfast every day of his life that I knew him. And, that unhealthy lifestyle finally got him—just short of his 80th birthday.

But he was active, and as Leslie R. Martin, professor of psychology at La Sierra University in Riverside, California, and co-author of The Longevity Project said, “There was a clear, similar trend (for living longer) among people who had civic engagements, were active in their communities, volunteered, and otherwise stayed connected.” Phrased another way by my Uncle Bill, Mom’s baby brother, while visiting my parents after their retirement, “If we could unplug that television and burn those recliners, they would live longer.” Dad died at 83 and Mom at 87. Uncle Bill? He’s still active, working and going places at 85.

In another tidbit of aging advice, Groucho Marx reportedly revealed his outlook for a happy life in an interview during his “golden years.” When asked what he hoped people would be saying about him 100 years from now, he quipped, “Doesn’t he look good for his age.”

I’m still evaluating whether all of this is working for me, but you can bet your life something must be. After all, I’m old enough to remember Groucho Marx.

—Leon Aldridge

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Aldridge columns are published in these Texas newspapers: The Center Light and Champion, the Mount Pleasant Tribune,  the Rosenberg Fort Bend Herald, the Taylor Press, and the Alpine Avalanche.

© Leon Aldridge and A Story Worth Telling 2020. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Leon Aldridge and A Story Worth Telling with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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