Jun. 28th 40 Years/40 Lessons (21) Age.
This is the weekend edition of TheMarioBlog and will be updated as needed. The next new blog post is scheduled for Monday, July 2
TAKEAWAY: This is part 21 of my occasional series 40 Years/40 Lessons, which I call a “sort of career memoir” capturing highlights and reminiscing about what has been a spectacular journey for me, doing what I love most. Today’s segment: all about looking forward to your next adventure, at whatever age.
Illustration by Ana Lense Larrauri/The Miami Herald
Perhaps I should title this segment of 40 Years/40 Lessons “Aging” since one truly begins to think about age and mortality after one reaches a certain age, whatever that is—since it may be different for everyone. It is said that after the American playwright, Tennessee Williams, reached 50, he never again revealed his true age, replying to those who asked:
“I am between 50 and eternity.”
The Queen of Salsa, the late Cuban “guarachera” Celia Cruz, who died in her 80s, would tell anyone who asked for the year of her birth that she was born in “19.com”—an Internet reference that left everyone laughing and abandoning the question.
I am thinking of age and aging as I read the sad news of Nora Ephron’s death.
Nora was 71 and thus someone I would consider as a member of my generation, although I am 6 years younger. I have admired Nora’s work, her books, movies, blogs, her frankness and her zest for life in its various stages. I mourn her passing which comes too soon, robbing all of us of her talent.
In her latter years, Nora wrote extensively about aging, always with her distinctive sense of humor and her impeccable choice of words—-that which provided the rich dialog in her romantic comedies like Sleepless in Seattle and You’ve Got Mail that were such hits. Nora connected instantly not just with us members of her generation, but with audiences both young and old. Her themes mirrored the everyman’s life .
In her 2006 best-selling collection of essays, “I Feel Bad About My Neck,” she took on age and aging:
““It’s not better. Even if you have all your marbles, you’re constantly reaching for the name of the person you met the day before yesterday.”
However, what I admire about Nora, among other things is her joie de vivre, that sense of what I have come to call “a looking forward attitude”, which she exhibited until the end, according to her obituary in The New York Times. She was in the hospital the last two weeks of her life, but still working on a pilot for a TV series.
“The producer Scott Rudin recalled that less than two weeks before her death, he had a long phone session with her from the hospital while she was undergoing treatment, going over notes for a pilot she was writing for a TV series about a bank compliance officer. Afterward she told him, “If I could just get a hairdresser in here, we could have a meeting.”
Somehow, that is how I would like to see me acting and thinking up until the last moment.
The looking forward attitude
Ir takes a good dose of that “looking forward attitude”, with an ample reservoir of accpetance of what is.
I have known many people, including my contemporaries, who shave a year off here or there from their age—-and sometimes two or three. Heck, I would say. He or she graduated from high school with me, and I remember that we were 17 years old the same year, so how can I now be two years older.
I usually smile and shrug it off. Eternity does not have a specific number attached to it, so Mr. Williams may have been right all along.
You are going to feel as old as you calculate it in your head.
Be proud of your station in life at whatever age
For me, and this is the lesson here, one has to be happy, contented and accepting of whatever age the calendar marks. With this comes a certain pride of the life you have had, and always the optimism and the hope of a good remaining life—-as short or as long as it may be.
I often tell my friends that I feel about 37 on most days. If I am lucky, I feel 29. And, no, I do not wish to turn the calendar back and be those ages again. God, no! And not because they were not particularly good ages. But I look forward to what the next stage will be, then allow myself to feel as young as I want.
I recall actually cherishing almost every stage of my life. Not that life has always been easy. Not that I have not had the same personal, professional and family struggles that everyone faces. However, I have made it a point to approach it all with a sense of “happy to be here, happy to be alive, and ready for the task at hand.”
I don’t know what geriatric experts prescribe as a good solution for facing the inevitable fact of aging and whatever we may feel on our neck or elsewhere. I have never been to a therapist—-yet! But I can say that one must accept the age one is in, approach it with a sense of humor, as Nora Ephron so fabulously did, and adapt to whatever circumstances that age represents, which, are different for everyone.
Just like two 20 year olds may behave very differently from each other, two 65 year olds may also be poles apart in their mental and physical health, behavior and attitude.
Age is not a thermometer of passion
I work with people of all ages, the full spectrum of the human condition, in various nationalities, and, although I am not an expert on the subject, I can testify that I have seen 30 somethings who are tired, deplete of energy and/or passion, and a total bore; I have seen 80 somethings still coming to the office daily, full of life and, if you talk to them, you might think that they have been reassured of at least another 25 years of life.
These oldies have the “look forward” attitude. There is no pill, no tonic, no diet, no anti aging cream that provides it. You must get it in your internal drug store. Always there. Always on sale. Always ready for the taking.
What determines this type of behavior? Why is it that some of us strive with the “look forward” attitude while others don’t? That’s for those who research the topic to tackle.
For me, it is all a matter of the type of “communion” that you have with yourself, your internal dialogs, what you say to yourself when you put your feet on the floor each morning as you get out of bed. In those first 20 seconds, when we go from the happy fog of sleep into the clearer light of the day and the life ahead, that is when we must prescribe ourselves with a dose of optimistic reality.
I remind myself: I am here, I am healthy, I look forward to my day, to my family, to my run, and to whatever surprises the day may have wrapped in the basket we grab as we start each day.
Suddenly, there is a gingerly Fred Astaire move in your step, and, at that moment, age does not matter.
As if each day brings you a day closer to eternity, whatever that is, whenever it comes. Another day to look forward to.
For me, it is 65 years of age as of my last birthday. I must say that it is a fantastically wonderful age, the point in which you are a proud Medicare card carrying member, and you know that you must tick the last box on every survey or questionnaire, the one that says 65 plus.
Or, as Tennessee Williams would say: 65 and eternity.
That is where I am. Definitely, a good place to be.
By the way, just as I posted this blog Friday morning I read in The New York Times about another premature passing for a Baby Boomer member of our generation, Don Grady, who played Robbie in My Three Sons, the very popular family sitcom of the 1960s. He was 68.
A busy week ahead for Garcia Media
Follow us this coming week as three of our projects launch in three different countries. On Sunday, July 1, both the Mexican daily “am” of Leon, and Berita Harian, the leading Malay language daily of Malaysia, launch their new looks and rethinking. On Tuesday, July 3, we launch the new iPad edition of Austria’s most widely circulated newspaper, Kronen Zeitung.
Read case studies for all in TheMarioBlog next week.
Of special interest this weekend:
New Chinese version of The New York Times
The iPad Design Lab: Storytelling in the Age of the Tablet
Video walkthrough of the iPad prototype of iPad Design Lab
TheMarioBlog post #1042
Posted by Dr. Mario R. Garcia on June 28, 2012
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Dr. Mario R. Garcia
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