June 1, 1967:
Immediately after the school bell blared the end of the day; Richard, Randy, and I, exploded out of the classroom, saddled up our bicycles, shot out of the school parking lot and peddled furiously en masse to Records Ltd, on the corner of Victory and Van Nuys. Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band was available! Before they sold out we must each have one!
Oddly, when we got back home, we each went our own way and collectively, yet separately, listened to our own private copy, phoning each other, or yelling to through open windows, to see what the others thought after each song. One would think it would have been more fun and simpler to all gather together, but who understands the mind of adolescents?
“When I’m 64” was no one’s favorite
Sure, it has McCartney’s sweetness to it and the lyrics were easily learned, but age 64 was so long into the future that we related no better to it than we would should it be about space aliens (which being nerdy teenage boys, we would have preferred).
Moreover, we had grandparents that age who were just ancient. My grandma, Zlate, appeared so timeworn that I could not possibly imagine that ever happening to me.
Of course, her time was severe. Emigrating through Ellis Island after escaping the persecution of the Czar, she survived horrific poverty, lost her husband at the age of 29, and raised three daughters solo, managing to support them by starting her own junkyard business.
Grandma was strong and determined; no arguing that. But the decades took a heavy toll. With the skin on her hands cracked; face deeply lined; she literally bent under the weight of her survival; staggering sluggishly rather than walking, always with the assistance of someone’s arm supporting her, her oversized housecoat and apron hung loosely around her large frame. She required rest after moving even the shortest distances.
No, I would never be like that.
Dianna Nyad recently climbed from the sea to the land at Key West after swimming 100 miles from Cuba. This was not her first crack at it; rather it was number five. She first attempted the crossing 35 years ago, in her late twenties.
Diana Nyad is 64. Sixty-four in Grandma’s day is not 64 now.
I hold no illusions about my abilities to emulate Ms. Nyad, nor do I have interest in accomplishing such ambitious goals. Heck, I’m pleased when I can complete an hour’s Zumba class without passing out. However, her staggering achievement has inspired so many — including me; not only because of the scope of what she did “at her age,” but even more because of her attitude. “I’m a better athlete all around at this age,” she said, purposely adding a reminder to Baby Boomers that these we are in the best years of our lives.
Yet, even more than that, what struck me most was the reason she said could accomplish this goal after more than three decades, referring to herself as, “…stronger, calmer, and in a state of awe, rather than in a state of ego.”
Sometimes, upon noticing gray hair in the mirror or tiring earlier than I used to, my ego acts up and I get cranky, spending time in a private pity party. “Ain’t it awful?” I say. “Getting older sucks.”
Aging is not optional; it will not be denied.
It’s wiser to embrace it gracefully than lament it futilely. If we seek out a state of “awe,” the more beautiful will be our existence – no matter how many years it spans.
About the author: Scott “Q” Marcus is a motivational productivity expert and weight loss speaker. He is the CRP (Chief Recovering Perfectionist) of www.ThisTimeIMeanIt.com and founder of 21DayHabitChange.com, guaranteed to help you change a habit in just 3 weeks. He can be reached at 707.442.6243, firstname.lastname@example.org or facebook.com/ThisTimeIMeanIt.