Most of us want to live a long (and happy) life. But who wants to get old! Neither you, nor I. Since we can’t have one without the other, it’s best to make the BEST of it. We can grow old and yet retain some of the wonderful feelings of youth.
Happiness is number one. Being miserable contributes to no one's happiness, except our enemies. Happiness is within our control—we have no one to ask for it, and no one can take it away—not even Uncle Sam. We alone decide if we want to be cheerful or depressed. Of course, it’s not always easy; listening to the daily news can be a mighty damper—the ups and downs of the campaign, nuclear power in jumpy hands, riots about videos, floods and fires, or the wrinkles in our face. All sad, sad, sad. But can our sadness change any of it? Not very likely. On the other hand, our smile may cheer up someone. And, most importantly, it'll cheer us. A smile steers our thoughts into more upbeat channels. Our gloriously beautiful Earth provides much to be grateful for. As Shakespeare says: Assume a virtue if you have it not. And smile.
Our health and stamina decline as we grow older; so it’s vital for us to walk and keep active, and stay away from the refrigerator. We need less food, and more gentle movement to keep our muscles alive and our body flexible. As to medications? Doctors often assume that their patients feel short-changed if they have to leave their office without a prescription. Worse, I hear that some doctors have a vested interest in some pharmaceuticals or pharmacies. I told my doctor that I’m no friend of pills, and he’s never prescribed me anything yet, except for something temporary like a flu.
A sense of adventure and curiosity, and the excitement of discovering or learning something new is one of life’s greatest pleasures. When we finally retire, we have more leisure to pursue these joys. My life has always been filled to the brim, but since I retired, the days seem shorter than ever—there's so much to do, to explore, to write, to share. My daughters gave me a new bicycle and pink and blue roller blades when I turned 65; I took up playing the piano at 70, I read more books in foreign languages now, and am having a ball volunteering. And think of all the wonders that Google is willing to reveal if we ask for it! It’s unimaginable that we once had to do without it.
Cherish your friends; and honor them for being your friends. Treasure them in good times as well as in bad. Loneliness makes for poor company; we thrive in interaction with others. A pet may help, but a pet ties us down and needs daily care. If you’ve moved away from your friends, join a group, volunteer or become a friend to the friendless. To have a good friend is one of the greatest delights of life, as R. W. Emerson put it.
I’ve found the perfect solution for our declining youthful beauty, but you may not like it. I found light bulbs with low, low wattage and use them near my mirrors! I feel better when I’m not reminded of my wrinkles and glad to discern nothing but a cheerful grin. It seems ludicrous and a losing battle to pretend that we're younger than we are.
It's more fun to put some twinkles in our wrinkles, and be proud of our age! We’re still alive, and eager to make the best of it. And that is all that matters. It's grand to enjoy the fruits of our efforts—no more crying babies at two in the morning, instead some darling grandkids to spoil. No more rush hour traffic to fight, instead full devotion to the daily paper. We have leisure to do what we like. It’s worthwhile to be grateful for, or, if you’re still young, something to look forward to.
Come to think of it, the last ten years have been the happiest of my life.
Until next time,