“I’d rather be dead than singing Satisfaction when I’m forty-five.” – Mick Jaggar
It doesn’t seem that long ago that I’d tell people I planned to run a marathon when I turned sixty. I don’t make such ludicrous statements anymore. Instead I simply say that I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing for as long as I can, because quite frankly, age is only a number.
Hemingway referred to surges in energy that drove him to write for days and weeks and months until he finished one of his epic novels as the “juice.” I get my “juice” from people, especially people who treat age for what it is–a number, like your weight or mailing address. I’ve finished races behind guys in their seventies, and have more than a few writer friends pushing eighty. I met a wind surfer at Lake Galena in Bucks County, Pennsylvania who was in his late sixties. A week or two later I met his son, also a wind surfer, who told me his dad taught him the sport. I remember sharing a ski lift at Spring Mountain with a seventy-two year old guy who told me he started skiing when he was in his sixties. And then, of course, there was the eighty-plus-year-old adventurer I met on Mount Rainier who pointed out across the Cascade Mountain range and told me he climbed the 11,250′ summit of Mount Hood when he was in his sixties. I reached out to shake his hand and when I felt his steely grip I knew he spoke the truth.
People who shrug at age possess energy that is contagious. These are the type people who have inspired me to qualify for the Boston Marathon at fifty, and run my first ultra-marathon at sixty. Some of the people I find most inspiring are those who some people look down upon, like my buddy Bob, an older gent who suffers from some type of palsy and walks as if he will fall on his face with each step. Nothing stops Bob from driving to the lake and somehow getting out of his old truck and shuffling to a bench to watch the placid water and listen to the barking geese. Though I only understand a fraction of what Bob says, I know he is happy and appreciative. I feel it in his spirit.
My advice is to seek such people to fill your life. Put yourself in their presence, absorb their enthusiasm, their zest for life. Be honest with them and they will share what they have with you. It’s magic. I really is.