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Staying Young in Spirit

Creative Commons LicensePhoto credit: aka_serge

The purpose of life’s journey is not to arrive at the grave with a well-preserved body, but rather to slide in sideways, completely used up, yelling and screaming, what a ride!

— Anonymous

Everywhere I turn, there are reminders that I am getting older – and now that I’m nearing another milestone birthday, one with a zero at the end (No, I’m not 100.), I’ve become very aware of the number of friends and acquaintances who have died.  I also notice that some of my friends have started avoiding new things – declaring the past to be the “good ol’ days” and wishing that they could go back.  We can’t go back and to be honest, I sometimes get a bit morbid about those I’ve lost to death or retreat.  This week, I read a series of posts on the This I Believe blog.  Many of them were on ways that the writers had found to stay young in spirit.

Robert Fulghum, author of All I Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, is 73.  When he turned 70, he decided to learn how to tango.  Tango is a complex and difficult dance which is what makes it so good as mental and physical exercise.  To tango requires that the dancer be mindful of the music, the steps and their own body.  About learning to tango, Fulghum wrote:

My passion for tango disguises a fearfulness. I fear the shrinking of life that goes with aging. I fear the boredom that comes with not learning and not taking chances. I fear the dying that goes on inside you when you leave the game of life to wait in the final checkout line.

Keep Moving – Put One Foot in Front of the Other

Many of us fear aging.  When we reach a certain age, we get more stiff.  When we get up from a chair it takes a couple of steps before everything is “flowing” in a graceful walk. It doesn’t take long to figure out that without some preventive action on our part, we will get less and less flexible.  Less flexibility can mean less movement, until finally, we just stop moving.  We become more fearful of the world out there, less adventuresome, and eventually, we choose to sit in our chair at home instead of risking being uncomfortable.

I’ve seen it in my father.  The older he got, the more he raged.  To be fair, he’d always been a fearful person who didn’t seem to learn from experience.  Gradually, he felt more and more out of control until he retreated behind his barriers, hoping that no one would make him come out and deal with the world.  Unfortunately, the world doesn’t stop challenging us, we simply stop answering the challenge.  He stayed home and let someone else answer the call.  His only response was to criticize what others were doing.

Fulghum was afraid of this very thing so he engaged his body, mind and spirit in a new challenge, and he grew.  He’s expanded his areas of interest and he continues to live an interesting and challenging life.

Learn Some Everyday

I’m a simple person.  I have only two goals each and every day.  I want to learn a little every day, to finish the day smarter than I started it.  I want to keep moving so I don’t freeze up like the Tin Man without his oil can.

They may seem like very basic goals, but I believe, like Ray Kroc, founder of McDonalds, that we are either, “green and growing or ripe and rotting.”  I don’t need to learn rocket science or neurosurgery.  I don’t need to run a marathon.  I just need to improve myself a little every day and I’ll stay young in spirit no matter how old I get.

A friend of mine recently died at 85.  She was still a working real estate agent who was actively involved with her children and grandchildren – going to softball games and dressage competitions to watch her granddaughters compete.  She was participating in the lives around her.  She was engaged with the challenges and opportunities that arrived with each new day.  She was upbeat and young in spirit.  She made a choice to live until she died.

We all face the same choice.  We can choose to quit short of the finish line or we can “slide in sideways… screaming what a ride!”

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2 comments to Staying Young in Spirit

  • xelliott123

    Thank you, PattiAnn! When I was at my hula class today (only 2nd time) I looked around and realized that everyone was doing this thing much better than I was ~~ I would get my steps out of order or
    just not move my hips the right direction. Finally, at the end of the session I realized that I was the only new person and that everyone else had been in the class for quite some time ~in fact~ all but one other person was also in the advanced hula class. Part of me wanted to grab my hula skirt and hula out the back door, but, I realized that anything worth doing is worth doing right and requires some hard work and a bit of perspiration. I then found out that when I started last week they started a new song and routine, just for me. The warmth and welcoming spirit of this group is just amazing. I found myself giggling at myself and not being offended by the special one- on- one helpful hints. It has been my dream to do this type of hula dancing ~ not the Tahitian spine poppers, but the slow, rhythmic, almost spiritual Hawaiian dance. I hope I’ve found a home and that I persevere in this awkward new opportunity! Thanks for the reminder, my dear!

  • Yep, never stop. Live each day to its fullest. Watch children, college students, go to concerts full of young people. Catch their energy and open yourself up to what’s new out there. You may not like some of it, but to keep the spirit alive you need exposure to new things. It’s a very exciting world out there. Don’t shut yourself in an ever smaller box. Take a nap and hit the town where ever that takes you. Janie

Cup o’ Inspiration

cup with steam swirl

Take a short break and consider the following:

“Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul.”

Samuel Ullman

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