“In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit.” – Albert Schweitzer
Since hitting a milestone recently—The Big Six-Oh—I thought instead of writing solely about running, health and fitness in my blog, I’d begin to share my thoughts and approach to living a long, vibrant and rewarding life. Following is the first in a series I will tentatively call 60 to Go:
Life is a series of decisions that affect our health and happiness—how we toil and play, what we eat and drink, people with whom we share our lives. The people we choose to spend our time with play perhaps the largest role in our outlook on life and our energy level. It’s an accepted fact that terminally negative people, those toxic souls, drain our energy. Conversely, people with a passion for life have a contagious effect and consequently fill us with energy; they are those folks with a Glimmer in the Eye.
Former Philadelphia Eagles, Saint Louis Rams, and Super Bowl winning coach Dick Vermeil, used to say, “Surround yourself with winners and you’ll be a winner.” You can take that to the bank, and I believe the same theory applies to surrounding yourself with positive and optimistic people who possess an unbridled passion for life.
I’m fortunate to have such people in my life, and I’ve crossed paths with others whose passion I carry with me years after brief encounters with them. Let me share a few examples:
– Charlie (his name is changed to protect his identity) is a seventy-seven year old native Frenchman who came to America in his early twenties with no money and barely able to speak English. He lived the American dream building his business to the second largest documentary film maker in the world. His remarkable life touched the lives of icons including Marlon Brando, Robert Kennedy, Sammy Davis, Jr., and Salvatore Dali, to name a very few. During lunch recently, he enthusiastically shared with me his latest project, a screen play project he is collaborating with another writer.
– When I was Stranded in Seattle during the week of 9-11 I trekked to seven thousand foot altitude on Mount Rainier where I encountered an older gentleman. We got talking and he pointed in the distance to Mount Hood in Oregon and told me he climbed to the summit in 1981. I asked him his age. He was eighty-one, which made him sixty-one when he climbed the 11,249-foot summit.
– Some years ago I was skiing and shared a lift with an older black gentleman. It didn’t take long for me to recognize this guy wasn’t a typical senior. My fellow-skier was seventy-two, and started skiing when he was sixty. We passed one another on the slopes the remainder of the afternoon and shared many more lifts to the top of the mountain.
These are the type people I seek to share my life. Their passion overrides any inhibition about age; they have a blind spot for limitations. They are always looking on the horizon for the next adventure. Nothing is out of their grasp.
Before I finished this post I took a break to go for an hour run, and inadvertently encountered the perfect ending. I bumped into my buddy Bob, who suffered a stroke sometime before we became friends years ago. Bob struggles to get out of his pick-up truck, and then labors as far as his crippled body will carry him, but he never gives up. I told Bob his courage inspires me. It’s people like him who remind me how fortunate I am to do all the things I enjoy. Bob, Charlie, the eighty-one year old mountain climber, and seventy-two year old skier enrich my life.
Seek out people with that Glimmer in the Eye. They will fill you up with energy and the stuff needed to live a long and rewarding life. You can take that to the bank.