When I was a boy, my parents told me the anticipated lifespan of the average male in England was three score years and ten.... but I never paid any attention to this as getting old was something that happened to other people... old people. It was just a number to me like a good score in a game of cricket. If extras were added that would be terrific but seventy was considered a pretty good knock. With his innings over, the batsman would quietly take off his pads and, with a wave, bid farewell to the locker room of life. What a tought!
However, the years have passed and now I confess to taking a good hard morning look at myself in the bathroom mirror. As I get older, I think I'm beginning to look rather like my mother when she was in her golden years. I have fewer lines but my face seems to be getting longer as the canyons between nose and cheekbones deepen. This has something to do with elasticity I am told.
Incidentally, I am a great believer in friendly bathroom lighting. If we approve of what we see we are more likely to be in a happier frame of mind and will tackle the day ahead with greater enthusiasm. Bearing this in mind, one of the places to avoid, as we progress in life, is the department store cubicle. Not only are these horrid little rooms cluttered with hangers, pins, paper, and rejected garments, they are invariably lit by one naked light bulb and the mirror reflects, with startling clarity, all the creases, wrinkles, scars and blemishes collected over a lifetime. Perspiration, generated by the tedious business of removing garments and trying on new ones, only adds to the misery. Because of this I haven't bought a new suit for years.
But, moving along with this aging business...As I shave these days I tend to raise my chin and stretch my neck upwards as this gets rid of the loose bit that is starting to wobble...a bit like a turkey. The droop hasn't reached the serious stage as yet, but I don't think it was there six months ago. Also, I can't help noticing the wrinkles on the inside of my upper arms. I can make these disappear if I extend my arms sideways, clench my fists and rotate them in an anti-clockwise direction. But I really can't walk around my apartment like a man preparing for his crucifiction... so maybe this "softening" has to be accepted as part of the aging process.
Regrettably, I am not as mobile as I was but I do my best with the help of my indispensable walking stick. As I traveled around the world, I found some wonderful sticks in the market places of Africa, Russia, and the Far East never believing for a moment that, one day, they would play an important role in my daily life.
And now, as I approach my first anniversary at the Sarasota Bay Club, I again conclude that, yes, age is only a number and the quality of life is determined not by the calendar but by how we elect to spend our days. Genes might well have something to do with longevity but it is a revelation for me to see just how involved folk in their late eighties and nineties can be. I never thought I would see a centenarian striding, with purpose, down the hallway, and slipping into the club limo for her weekly trip to the beauty parlor, or a holocaust survivor pushing a laden cart down the aisle of the local supermarket. It is inspiring to see elderly residents discussing world affairs with vigor, beating time in a drum circle, being active in creative writing, and taking on perhaps the most daunting challenge of all... the art of Zen Tangling. Sometimes I feel like a youngster here as I am only 80 for heaven's sake!...a mere boy... but I know I am fortunate to be where I am, and I will continue to be encourage by and to learn from the example set by my elders... WELL DONE! ... SO IT'S.... ONWARDS AND UPWARDS!