Tag Archives: Aging

Overweight, Oversensitive and Overheard

All this talk about overweight Americans has got me a bit skittish.  I have a very hard time losing weight and keeping it off.  I, along with New Jersey governor Christie, don’t need to be told I’m too fat.  I’ve been on the heavy side a loong time. So, I admit to being a little bit sensitive what with all this negative press.

Recently, for example, I was eating breakfast (fat or not, you should always eat breakfast) at our local grocery store foodbar.  Several groups of older men gather there to talk and drink weak coffee.  Some of them were seated behind me and I couldn’t help overhearing some comments that got my attention.

“Wow! He’s a big’un ain’t he?

“Did you see his body?”

“Yup, he must weigh 220!”

“Lookit them littlebitty horns.”

By this time I realized they weren’t talking about me.  After all, I weigh a bit more than that.

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Filed under Comments, conversion, Discussion, Food, Humor, Obesity, Random Thoughts

The 10,000 Hour Rule

Among the things I wish I had learned before it was too late was the 10,000 hour rule.  Malcolm Gladwell’s amazing book, Outliers, was my first exposure to this principle.  Stated simply: If you want to become an expert in any given endeavor, it is necessary to involve yourself (study and practice) for a minimum of 10,000 hours.  You want to be a great musician?  Learn the basics of music and your instrument and then practice for 10,000 hours.  You want to be a great scientist?  Get the basics of your field and then research, experiment, collaborate, etc. for 10,000 hours.  Baker, butcher, chef, artist, salesperson, preacher, teacher, actor, you name it…after 10,000 hours of serious pursuit you will achieve expert status.  You can read more here.

My attention, sadly, has always been divided.  I have always had too many irons in the fire.  I have been too interested in too many things.  I see something that interests me and I think, “Hey, I can do that!”  Maybe so…but without the dedicated pursuit and practice…no achievement of expertise.  Now, I find myself at the “twilight years” able to converse about many things but not as a maven, guru, whiz-kid, ace, go-to-guy, virtuoso or hotshot.

I may come close in a couple of areas where I have some native ability, but it’s a bit too late to become a real expert.  What was needed was to find my passion of passions and then focus, focus and focus.  Hopefully, it is not too late for you.

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Filed under Aging, Biography, Book Reviews, Ignorance, Initiative, Life, Music, Preaching/Teaching, Science

Conversation in the Alley

I was driving down the alley when this old fellow (“old fellows” are, by definition older than me) opened his gate and his little dog ran between his legs right into my path.  I slammed on the brakes kicking up a cloud of dust.  A look of relief came over his face (the man’s) when he realized I had not flattened Rover.  The dog looked aged.  He was sprinkled with gray hairs in his coat and he was a little overweight.  I had come close to sending him to his doggy reward.  His owner grabbed him up, came around to the driver’s side and I rolled down the window to hear what he had to say.

“Oh thank you!” he said, his little dog safe in his arms.

“Sure glad I didn’t hit him,” said I.

“Me too!” he replied.  “You want some granite slabs?”

“Uh…granite slabs?” I asked, a little confused at the abrupt change of subject.

“Yep.  I’ve got eleven of ‘em,”

“Well, I don’t know…”

“Well, I’m puttin’ eleven of ‘em out here in the alley for anyone who wants them.”

“Okay, I’ll think about it.”

I slowly drove off, pondering the unlikely conversational combination of old men, old dogs and old granite slabs.

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Filed under Aging, Humor, Random Thoughts

Live Your Adventure

High adventure was on my young index of dreams.  As it turns out, my adventures have been mild ones.  I never did become an explorer, sailor, naturalist, anthropologist, spelunker, diver, paleontologist, prospector, or performer.  As a young boy I avidly read about the adventures of men like Thor Heyerdahl and William Beebe.  Beebe was an ornithologist, explorer, and author.  He was an early ecologist.  He made a record-breaking dive in a bathysphere to a depth of 3,028 ft in 1934.  He lived the adventures of my dreams.

Recently, I ran across a piece written by him in his old age.  It’s good advice for all adventurers, young and old.

What I Would Do
Will Beebe

If I were as young in years again as I still am inside,
I should make me a list of a few things to do before I die:

To go at least once clear around this jolly world.

To live with savages and in jungles now and then
and learn how splendid they are.

To ride and read and shoot and play and study and think
and be silent with such enthusiasm that every moment
of unnecessary sleep would be a crime.

To live so fully that most people would seem dead on their feet.

To own a magnificent telescope and by frequent use never
to forget the humor of my size and place and ambitions in the universe.

Finally, do the things all over again, for I have
done them and am still at it, and I know.

For just this once I have broken my motto of “Don’t tell.”
And now forget everything that I have said and live your own life.

As it turns out, I have lived my own life.  As a 25 year-old missionary and married with children, I concentrated on being a good husband, father and evangelist but never stopped dreaming.  Those later dreams were milder ones: farmer, woodcarver (a skilled one), preacher (an effective one), teacher (a beneficial one) and writer (a successful one).  In small, insignificant ways I have dabbled in the later dreams and found much satisfaction.

I find I no longer aspire to fame or celebrity status — having seen the emptiness of those pursuits. Besides that, I’m getting a bit “long in the tooth,” whatever that means.

Aside from some major life challenges, I am satisfied with my little shop where I carve wood, my vegetable garden (the farming part) teaching and mentoring aspiring missionaries, working with ministry training schools in the South Pacific (and soon, hopefully Asia), and writing blogs and books.  The adventure continues.

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Filed under Adventure, Aging, Blogs & Blogging, Life, Meaning of Life, Philosophy, Science, Writing

Thoughts on Turning Sixty-Eight

For the past few weeks I have been teaching a Bible class for older folks.  I don’t believe there is anyone in the class under 65 or so.  Since, in a few days I will be the ripe old age of 68, I feel right at home.  At the moment, we are working our way through Leviticus, one of those seldom-studied books.  It’s full of instructions for all kinds of offerings enabling a holy God to live among a very unholy people.  A lot could be said about that but, at the moment, I am thinking more about age than holiness.

Old age is, among other things, interesting.  For one thing, sitting still, I don’t feel old.  It is only when I get up and try to move around quickly that my body reminds me that it has seen better days.  I wake up in the morning with plans to accomplish the same things I did at, say, forty.  As the day progresses, reality sets in: I’m nowhere near the capabilities of forty.  It is disappointing.  Still, I keep at it as best I can.

One of my older-than-me friends tells me there are perks that come along with age.  People want to help you.  They open doors for you and ask if you need a hand.  Young women smile at you and don’t consider you a threat.  You get senior discounts.  That’s all I can think of right now.  I think, however, I would trade these “perks” for more “pep.”  Yes, I would trade it all for pain-free hips, knees, a well-behaved back, and being considered more dangerous in the eyes of young women.

The ranks of the “older folks” are bursting at the seams.  The solvency of Social Security and Medicare systems are threatened.  I notice more and more advertisements aimed our way.  Care facilities for older folks (skilled nursing, assisted living, etc.) are popping up everywhere.  Movies are being made about old codgers and biddies (good news for our aging actors).  I’m glad I don’t have to go through this “aging process” alone.

So how should you young folks respond to all this?  Well, Leviticus provides a good answer.  “You shall rise before the gray-headed and honor the presence of an old man, and fear your God. I am the Lord” (Leviticus 19:32).  OK, I know it’s the Old Testament and the Law of Moses and all that but I still think it’s a good idea.

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Filed under Aging, honor, Humor, Meaning of Life, Men's Issues, Nursing Home, Respect, Thinking, Whitsett News

Lunch with Dad at Table Fifteen

I see wheelchairs everywhere…some leg-powered some arm-powered.  The room is packed with people waiting expectantly for food.  A few have dozed off, chin on bibs.  One lady has her head on the table…seemingly lifeless.  There’s not much conversation.  Recorded Christmas music issues from a boom box balanced on a wooden podium in the background.

I observe two sorts of staff: indifferent and attentive…the attentive ones passing out an occasional hug to grateful residents.

The diners come in all shapes, sizes and conditions…some with their wits, some obviously without.  As far as I can tell everyone except the staff is white…no blacks or Hispanics in sight.

We are joined at table 15 by Mary…impatient for her food.  Soon she will be impatient to be taken back to her room complaining of back pain.  I try to talk to her but she is not in the mood.

Behind us an orderly softly sings Christmas carols with each phrase in a different key.

Finally, the trays begin arriving and the lady who had her head on the table comes to life and begins doing slow-motion wheelchair wheelies.

The food is nutritious and good.  I am grateful.

As lunch is consumed (not in whole but the part) the diners disappear one-by-one back into the maze of halls to find their rooms.

Is this my future?  I don’t aspire to lunch or any other meal in such circumstances.   Nevertheless, if Jesus tarries it is probably the lot of many of us.  Maybe I’ll be the one with my head on the table.  Even so, come Lord Jesus!

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Filed under Aging, Health Care, Nursing Home, Random Thoughts