If you are a typical person 60 to 80 years old the chances are you’re younger than you think. Inside that tired, ravaged, painfully bloated, wrinkly body lies the potential to regain the vigor of a person 20-30 years younger. Believe it, it is true – and it is very easy to prove, by the way….
We think that our days of vitality and energy are lost forever. We see it verified in our friends and acquaintances daily, the doctors and experts constantly drill it into us, and tell us to just accept it, embrace it, it’s all so perfectly natural. But what if we don’t have to?
I certainly don’t mean to imply that we can conquer all of the debilitative aspects of aging. We will all get old and die eventually. Even my boyhood idol Jack Lalanne succumbed at the age of 96. But his life gave testiment to the value of fitness and the idea of “compressed morbidity” or “live long and die fast.” What this refers to is the fact that a healthy lifestyle expands the years of youth and physical capacity and shrinks the period of debilitation, pain and illness. I personally think that the price paid psychologically is even greater than the physical one. Let me explain.
As we age and see our abilities wane and physical nuisances and handicaps grow we shrink our capacity for enjoyment. Nature makes up for this by changing our interests, by going from overt physically active persuits ; sports, dancing, even sex, which are “expression” activities to more “experiencing” ones like reading, eating, watching tv. We eventually compress our world down to a small easy chair and a book. Now there’s nothing at all wrong with this, but my feeling is that nature secretively imposes this changed area of desire and dulls the appreciation of the more overtly participated ones. Thus sheer joy, exultation, and excitement slowly become replaced by tolerable and quietly enjoyable serenity, drowsiness and finally sleep….. Again, I don’t intend to demean this, but to point out that our level of joy in live can diminish without our even knowing it.
My philosophy is that the essence of life is challenging nature, expressing ones existence, and active interaction with all that the world has to offer us. To do this we have to keep up our guard and to “rage against the machine” if you will. Acceptance still has its place, as I stated you will age somewhat no matter what you do, but if you work against it the changes are marginal, right up to the day you die, as opposed to painful, debilitative, even disastrous.
I look at it this way: Every day we age “two steps” toward the end. If you exercise regularly you take a step back. So its two steps forward, one step back…… Over time you realize immense benefit for the expense. And you enjoy life on a large scale instead of a tiny one. Just like my buddy Jack Lalanne did…….