I suggest that if you consider age as simply marking time and going through the pain of a body not working as well as it did when you were 20, then living ten decades doesn’t look so great.
However, if you look at age as an experience and life as a journey, if age is an attitude rather than a calendar, then the century mark may look better.
What brings this to mind is Larry Donoghue, retired parking consultant (he retired at 95), friend, and bon vivant, who turned 100 this week. Astrid and I spoke to him on his birthday and the first words out of his mouth was about what good physical shape he was in.
I remember a few years ago when Larry was having some balance problems. He told me that he was being forced to slow down. Then he discovered that he could correct the balance issue by doing some exercises, which he did, and all was right with his world. Larry slow down, never.
He speaks of his longevity with almost reverence. He says you must never retire. He was forced to stop consulting at 95 after an “intervention” his children held. They told him that he must retire to take care of his wife and he couldn’t be away at airports, garages, and cities. (She had just fallen and broken something). He agreed and then set about finding what to do.
Larry volunteers helping “old” people who can’t get around so much anymore. He goes shopping for them and sometimes just sits and talks with those who are lonely having lost most of their friends to age. He spends an hour and a half in the gym every other day. On the off days, he walks, a lot. He tells me that when the weather is inclement, he walks in the corridors of his apartment building.
Larry wrote a short biography for PT when he “Retired” in 2014. You can read it here.
We are holding a short event at PIE this year to honor Larry. Everyone is invited. Oh, don’t worry, when you hit 100, we will honor you, too. Larry tells me he will give a short speech on how to live100 years. I told him he had to keep it short – Larry can go on a bit. He said that he would keep the racy parts out and if someone wanted to meet him in the hall afterwards, he would whisper those in your ear. If he went over 10 minutes, he said, I could give him the “hook.”
Do I want to live to be 100? If I can keep my attitude fresh and active like Larry, sure. Its a journey I wouldn’t want to end.
Happy Birthday, Larry, many happy returns. My guess is that there will be.