A friend I’ve never met in person sent me a text yesterday. Her brief note stated: “I thought of you and your blog when I saw this picture.” Actually, it was probably the caption more than the picture that reminded her of me. The caption stated: “Don’t worry about getting older. You’re still gonna do dumb stuff, only slower.”
First I’ve got to say, “It is the highest of compliments to be thought of by anyone; particularly someone you’ve never met in person. One of the advantages provided me through social media is to get to know people I’d never have the option of knowing in any other format. Actually there are a number of people I feel like I’ve come to know as a friend simply through periodic exchanges of information.
Do you have any idea how many people I have coffee with each morning? No, I’m not there in person, but if for some reason my blog isn’t delivered in a timely fashion, I may get a note that their coffee grew stale or cold while they were waiting. Having someone say to me: “I read your blog” is the highest of compliments. Honestly, some of the people who communicate that message are people I didn’t know ever read my blog.
Getting back to the quote: “Don’t worry about getting older. You’re still going to do dumb stuff, only slower”. The only part that bothers me is the concept of “getting slower”. The rest of it is business as usual.
First of all, when it comes to running, you’d be hard pressed to run slower than me. Whether it’s truth of fiction, I remember that I didn’t do all that well on the required physical fitness tests in high school under the President Kennedy era when public school students were required to be tested for physical agility. I certainly didn’t do well on the 50-yard-dash. Of course, my twin brother may have influenced my interpretation or memory of my speed.
Speaking of the President John Kennedy era highlights the fact that although things change, everything remains the same. President Obama’s administration has certainly promoted a focus on nutrition and healthy living. Maybe it’s a Presidential legacy. Actually, the President’s Council of Fitness started even before President Kennedy. President Dwight Eisenhower established it on July 16, 1956. Of course, under the Eisenhower era, the primary concern was that our nations youth were not as physically fit and active of those of other countries. The purpose of the focus was to ensure that youth were fit and active so they could dutifully serve in the military. Sixty years later, this year’s approach and emphasis is to inspire all Americans to accelerate their journey to leading a healthy, active lifestyle.
Like I’ve shared before, the General is on her way. She has a personal trainer and she works out three or four times a week. I guess in some regards, she reminds me of my mother. Mother was always focused on physical health and exercise. You’d think that with the influence of both of these movers and shakers, I’d be less sedentary and more mobile. However, I think I hold my own. I may be slow in the 50-yard dash, but I walk faster than most people find as a comfortable pace. “Catch me if you can” continues to be a motto worth pursuing.
I guess I’m not yet on the threshold of believing that a person has to slow down in the midst of older age. Some of the kindest people I’ve ever known were my pastor and his wife from my childhood. Gerald and Mary Lou Petty both turned a corner in the midst of their retirement years and began taking art lessons. Amazing! Absolutely amazing is the only way I can describe their skill set and the professionalism of their art. When it comes to art work, I’m pretty particular with what I want hanging on the walls of my home. Trust me, I gladly would have displayed anything either of them painted. They were incredibly talented and neither new until in the midst of their twilight years.
One of the shining stars in our family of faith at Henly was a man named Henry Thompson. Henry moved to Dripping Springs following the death of his wife. In the midst of his 80s, Henry didn’t give a second thought to the concept of slowing down. He said to me on more than one occasion, “Don – If you stop, you might not get started again. Consequently, I’m going to keep on going.” Henry was a man in perpetual motion and he invested his time being involved in the lives of others.
His death at the age of 89 caught us all off-guard, because Henry lived life to the fullest. In his earlier life, he had been a barber and he had the gift of gab. Henry placed a premium on relationships. He never met a stranger. He wanted to know people and he wanted others to know him. Henry intuitively understood that in the economy of God, the things that matter most have something to do with other people in the context of relationship.
Henry had a generous spirit. There is no way to calculate how many folks in our church family periodically received a jar of honey, a jar of homemade jam, peanut brittle, a water melon or a cutting from one of Henry’s plants. He routinely and unselfishly was always sharing. It kept him going. He never slowed down.
Consequently, I am not buying the concept that “I’ll ever do it slower”. Old age doesn’t dictate that as a prerequisite. John Glenn, the first American to obit the Earth made history again at the age of 77. You got it, he traveled in space once again and is the oldest person to do so.
At the age of 86, Katherine Pelton swam the 200-meter butterfly in 3 minutes, 1.l4 seconds, beating the men’s world record for that age group by over 20 seconds.
At the age of 91, Allan Stewart of New South Wales completed a Bachelor of Law degree from the University of New England.
What accomplishments! All of that gives me great hope. I haven’t accomplished anything noteworthy yet, but gratefully, I’m not yet done. I don’t plan to slow down. Catch me if you can. You’ll probably find me doing dumb stuff, but I’ll be having the time of my life.
All My Best!