Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Growing Old Gracefully

You may have heard the story about the tourist who was on vacation in the mountains of West Virginia one summer. Making his way up a mountain trail, the traveler came upon an old cabin with what appeared to be a truly authentic mountain man sitting on the front porch. The traveler asked the fellow if he could take his picture - the mountain man said, "I reckon so." After taking a few photo's he asked the man what his secret was - "I have always wondered how you mountain people live to such a ripe old age - What's your secret?" The mountain man responded; "No secret how I live - everybody around here knows I drink a quart of homemade whiskey every day, smoke 6 cigars made from homegrown tobacco, and a I party every night." The tourist was shocked - "Wow! That seems like a rather strenuous lifestyle for a man of your age - how old are you, sir?" The mountain man said with great pride; "I will be 32 this spring."

I love to talk to people who have a few miles on them. Some folks in their 90's are as alive and vibrant as ever, even if they have some physical limitations. I am always trying to discover their secret - how does a person grow old gracefully?

Sometimes I see someone who looks rather ridiculous trying to act like they are 21 when they are 81. I also have witnessed far too many who simply quit living when they hit 60 - there is nothing more tragic than seeing someone die before they die!

I am learning that the secret to growing old gracefully is in the word "growing." When I talk with people who have quit learning, quit growing, who have parked their brains and quit exploring, my heart goes out to them. How sad!

I talked with a woman recently who was telling me about her new computer, with all the latest features. She was like a kid in a candy shop. She is in her 80's. She is a cutting edge learner and age has nothing to do with it - it's about living!

I met a man a few years ago who went back to college when he was in his 70's and graduated from College in his 80th year. He told me he hoped experience and education would help him land a good job.

Most of the people I run and ride with are much younger than me - much faster - and look better in bike shorts than I do, but it is invigorating to be around them - they praise me for my "long dedication and discipline" - I feed off their enthusiasm and passion.

The truth is we are all growing older - the only question is will we make the exciting journey with grace?

Just thinking, Steve

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