Sunday, October 17, 2010

Inspired by elders

I had a couple of potentially life-changing experiences lately. The first involved some family members; the second involved total strangers. It goes like this. My dad (who will turn 77 soon) is the youngest of 13 children. Of his remaining brothers and sisters, the oldest is 96 and the youngest is 83. They all got together last weekend, and for the first time ever, I found myself just sitting back and taking them all in, thinking: "I hope I got these longevity genes."

The second experience was with the residents of Atria Merrywood, a retirement facility down the street from where I live. S's Mom was in town and decided to stay there for a few nights last week to check it out in case she decides to move to Charlotte. We went over for dinner on Wednesday night, and I was totally amazed with some of the people I met (and a few others I heard about). For example, Ann, our hostess, is 82 and probably in better shape than I am. She's very active in the residence, and also in local community theater. And she shoots pool! We heard of another resident who is 100 years old and still drives to Concord (a nearby city) once a week to take decorative painting classes. These are just two of the amazing people we encountered either directly or indirectly while we were there.

The whole thing got me to thinking. After all, I've seen people in their 60s and 70s who seem "old" and unhealthy, but there are also people in their 80s and 90s who seem "young." Why are some people old and others young despite their chronological age? Three things stuck out to me: 1) the "young" people don't eat much! 2) the "young" people are very active and involved with hobbies, volunteering, etc., and 3) the "young" people are very social and seek out opportunities to keep learning.

I want to be one of the "young" when I get older. Therefore, I'm starting to ask myself what I can do NOW to increase the possibilities of being "young" in 30-40 years. The first thing I've decided to do is to lose some weight. Not for vanity's sake, but for health and longevity. I may or may not be blogging about this in the future, but by writing this, I'm committing myself to living a healthier lifestyle. I don't know if it's possible to overcome 30 years of bad choices, but I'm going to try.

One day at a time. Today is the first day of the rest of my life. No time like the present.

Here I go!