In 1948, Satchel Paige was the first African-American pitcher to be allowed into baseball’s major leagues. He was truly remarkable for that accomplishment but he must have been remarkable in many more ways because he is quote as asking this questions:
“How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you were?”
This question has been with me, searching for an answer, since I first heard it.
Several years ago as I was nearing retirement age, I recalled that in my earlier years I always knew what came next: high school, college, marriage, children, career. I had never considered what would come after that.
It seemed like common knowledge was:
- To be old was to be sick
- The secret of aging was to choose parents carefully
- Mental decline was inevitable
There wasn’t anything about any of that that sounded good. After some research, I learned that in recent years there had been a significant decrease both in acute infectious diseases as well as in precursors to chronic diseases such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and smoking. If I paid attention and took care of myself, perhaps I could remain healthy for a long time. I could get older without getting sick.
As far as the parent thing, that was water pretty much under the bridge. However, research now is showing that only 30% of physical aging can be attributed to heredity. Environment and lifestyle choices are more significant determining factors. Even more exciting is the recent research done by Dr. Bruce Lipton and others which indicates that our thoughts and feelings about our life experiences have the primary influence on our health as we age.
In regards to memory loss, research continually shows that while there are several things a younger brain does better, like picking up a new language and remembering names, the older brain is quite capable of taking on new challenges, showing a great ability to change and grow. And I still plan to learn French.
Many of us may not know that we have a conscious choice about how we age; that this can be a time to make contact with our most authentic, powerful and magnificent self. The excitement and challenge in the second half of life is to question every thought we have ever had about aging. If it is a limiting or negative thought, we want to ask: Is it true? Is it true in every case? Is it true for me?
I would like to go to France and spend a summer hiking in the vineyards. The first thing that comes to my mind is, “Are you crazy?” Then I step back and ask, is there any irrefutable reason why that would be impossible? I spend a minute, take a deep breath and beginning asking about the validity of any of my limiting thoughts. Is there any irrefutable reason why that would be impossible? No, probably not.
You might want to sit down and write where you see yourself in five years. What are you doing?Where are you doing it? Is your heart singing? Be your best friend.