Since my 83rd birthday is now four months behind me, I’ve become very comfortable with my age and it’s sure a lot better than the alternative. As a friend of mine who died at the age of 103 said, “The more birthdays you have, the longer you live.”
My body still moves, but at a much slower speed and not nearly with the ability it did forty or fifty years ago because, “Anyone who says they can do something as well at 50 as they could at 25, was sure lousy at 25.”
I have managed to ski a lot of days in my life with people half my age and maybe that’s why I have decided to write a book about aging. The midlife crisis seems to be some sort of a milestone for a lot of people. Midlife crises are supposed to happen during your 39th year because the life expectancy in America today is 78 years while 100 years ago it was only 38.
There are scientists who claim there is no such thing as a midlife crisis, but if there is no such thing, why do so many people buy Harley motorcycles, invest in routine cosmetic surgery or trade in their 60-year-old spouse for a 30-year-old one?
Ray Kurzweil, one of the world’s leading futurists, believes that with the anti-aging medical research that is going on now, there are people alive today who will live to be at least 150 years old and have a good lifestyle while doing it. Today, you can virtually buy off of the shelf spare parts for your body such as knees, hips, hearts, kidneys, livers, eyes and someday maybe they will be able to replace brains. There are already experiments of inserting computer chips in spinal cords to reroute the transmission of nerve signals around an injury. Scientists have developed an artificial red and white blood cell that they can inject with your DNA and then inject the cell into your body where it goes immediately to the problem and cures it. It is reported to be 10,000 times as efficient as a red or white cell that you can create yourself.
We spend the first third of our lives wanting to grow up and the last two thirds wanting to be children. Why is that? Where else but on a ski hill can you see the chairman of the board of a Fortune 500 company dressed up like a clown in matching lavender and pale green parka and pants, wearing powder blue skis and yellow boots? He could be riding on a ski lift sitting next to someone half his age who gets to ski 120 days a year. While the chairman tries to find at least 10 days each winter to use his $4-million home right next to the ski lift.
The key ingredient I discovered while writing the book about aging is that the best way to enjoy life is to adjust your attitude as you get older.
Men are hunter/gatherers and when humankind was evolving, score was kept by how many saber tooth tigers men brought home from the hunt. Today, score is often kept by the number of adult toys you own. But the guy who dies with the most toys is not necessarily the guy who had the most fun.
When I was a little kid living in a five-dollar-a-month shack in Topanga Canyon during the bottom of the depression, I didn’t know I was hungry and unhappy. The Santa Monica Mountains were out the back door and across the creek, the ocean was just a short walk down the dirt street and the ocean and those mountains gave me the freedom and my love for them that has stayed with me my entire life.
As Jim McConkey, former director of the ski school at Whistler B.C., says, “It is not what you have done, or what you are going to be doing, it is what you are doing right now. Everything you have, including your life, can be taken away from you in an instant. So enjoy this moment because it is the only one you can count on.”
The new book is called: “If you didn’t know when you were born, how old would you be?”