Definition of an optimist: Someone who falls off a tall building and when asked halfway down, “How’s it going?” replies, “So far, so good!”
I’m four months into my 70’s and if someone asked me (and no one has) “How’s it going?”, I would give the answer above. With a mixture of great gratitude and disbelief, I can report that in many ways “Better than ever.” Knowing how fast it can change, there’s no danger of arrogance here— believe me, I’m aware. But meanwhile I’m happy to say that I can still sit in half-lotus posture, walk some 5 or 6 miles a day and/or bike some 10 or 12 miles a day, climb up San Francisco hills, sit on the floor during a workshop—and get up again! With a little help from my friends— daily reading, writing, Crostics, skillfull Solitaire, jigsaw puzzles and Bach— my mind is as sharp (if not sharper) as it has ever been. Occasionally I wake up as if someone beat me up in my sleep, but mostly I have no chronic pain and my weight is lower than it has been for most of the last thirty or so years. Piano skills are at their peak, both classical and jazz, and I still can perform an energetic and coordinated Steppin’ body percussion pattern.
When I read a book and find out a character is 70, I still picture the kind of picture I would have when I was 20 or 30, someone much more tottering and creaky, shuffling along slowly. But I’m happy to report to you young folks that though there’s no guarantee— each body/ inherited genes/ life’s accidents is unique— a life of constant physical, mental, emotional and spiritual exercise pays off. 70 cannot only be tolerable, but potentially functioning a peak level.
Of course, I still miss some things that it looks like I’ll never regain. Amongst them:
• Being able to run like a 7-year old.
• Young women flirting with me. Heck, any women flirting with me.
• A more pleasant face looking back at me in the mirror.
• Plans to go skydiving or learn how to downhill ski.
• A fully functioning libido.
• The distance between life expectancy and my age.
But all in all, I can happily report:
“So far, so good.”