I am quite optimistic about aging…most parts of it…says Don who can barely walk at the moment after having the worst leg cramp of my life at 4am the morning. I really am…normally…but I am second rate in the optimism and “let’s make this work” area about aging…second to my friend and fellow author, Sharkie Zartman. Sharkie has a new book out, Win At Aging, that I highly recommend. Got my copy yesterday and was surprised to find an excellent Foreward inside..by me. Had it not been for my own aging, I would probably not have been surprised.
So, with Sharkies permission granted…here is the forward (the unedited version). Available now on Amazon.
I just returned from a three mile run against the setting sun here at my home in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii. It was what I would call a Seniors Run. I ran when I could, walked when I had to and spent a lot more time enjoying the view and vegetation than I did looking at my watch to check my progress. Adding to the Senior factor…I had spent a good part of the early morning hours of 3am to 6am in the emergency room at our local hospital. I am undergoing a chemical face peel to hold off skin cancer and have reached the most difficult part of that treatment. My face looks like raw hamburger. It hurts and itches…and THEN the rest of my body decided it was not getting enough attention so it broke out in the worst hives I’ve ever seen. When I entered the emergency room and stuck out my hand to the doctor on duty, he said “I wouldn’t shake your hand if I were wearing work gloves and a wetsuit…you are a hot mess!” And I was.
Does that sound kind of pitiful and discouraging. As a matter of fact, it does. But here is the key point…I am doing the skin peel so I can spend even more time in the sun in the future…much better protected from the sun than in the past. I live in the ocean and on the beach and out in the wild where the lava flows and things get dangerous. At age 72, I am more alive than I have ever been in my whole life. And so is my 70 year old beautiful wife to whom I will have been married 50 years when summer rolls around this year.
When I was a kid I was basically unafraid of anything. Then, over the course of a few events, I learned that one wrong step and your life could be over…or catch one bad bug and the end is near. So, I led an adventurous life, with some pretty solid safety boundaries in place. I wanted to be around to see the kids get a good start in life, to see the house paid off and to have had my full corporate career. I’ve done all that and more and, as Monty Python might say, Now for something completely different.
I want to see what IS possible if I can put away the safety fence. And so I surround myself with younger, stronger, smarter people who can guide Linda and I into places we would never dream of going on our own. I’ve been in the water at Banco Chinchirro, Mexico…five and a half hours from a phone…and in the water with HUGE wild saltwater crocs just inches away from my camera housing. I’ve jumped in with the biggest sharks in the world in two mile deep water. Been out in some terrifying surf with a large camera housing in my hand so I can photograph the surfers as they hurdle toward me. I’ve had lava fumes drop me to the ground for lack of oxygen, exploding tree pieces buzz over my head and cliffs drop off into the lava pool just feet in front of me. Been on boat rides I would not recommend to my worst enemies. Stood feet from a full grown lion hoping he just wanted his picture taken. Roamed around Egypt prior to the Revolution surrounded by guys with guns and doing my best to look Canadian. This is the short list…the long list would confirm that I am probably nuts.
However, don’t miss the part about being surrounded by guides and body guards. I don’t just strike out of my own (well…sometimes I do…not my smartest moments). I let their knowledge and the odds and my preparedness help mitigate the risks. What I don’t let stop me is…fear. I have all the fear that any of you have…I just put it away as kind of a last consideration and not a first consideration, once I retired.
My dad was a tough guy…not big but not afraid of anything. As he was dying at age 94, I went to see him in the hospital…his first time ever in a hospital…never an operation nor broken bone nor a lost nor damaged tooth…like I said…tough guy. He looked up at me and said “Son, don’t let yourself die like this, this sucks.” He then asked me how I thought I would die. I told him that the odds were fairly good that I would be eaten by a tiger shark. “Good!” he said. “You will make all the papers.”
So, thank you Sharkie, for putting together this wonderful book. It will help all of us to get the most out of our retirement years…not the least. It will encourage us to take on the Aging challenge like going out for a sport…to prepare ourselves, prepare our minds, plot our strategy for success (and at our age…if we fail…who cares?) and to build up our courage to expand our own vision of what we can do with the blessed time we have left on earth. SOOO much better to go up to that safety line and, with good preparation and help, say “Let’s see how far we can push this today.”
My one thought for anyone retiring…Learn to be something more than you have ever been. If you do that on a regular basis you will live into the great words of the song by Toby Keith…”Don’t Let the Old Man In”.
And will we all get really old and eventually die…heck yes, if we are lucky. But I have always wanted to exit stage left warn out nor warn down. Take on Aging Like a Sport and you can join me in that quest.
Author of Smells Like Retirement
Photographer and part owner of lavalightgalleries.com
Old retired guy with a beautiful wife