It seems more and more people are living well past the 100 mark. Just the other day, I received an email from a senior center in the borough where eight of its residents are reaching the milestone this week. Can you believe it? Eight centenarians in one place.
When I was growing up, 70 was old, and an almost unattainable age.
I’ve given many a Standing O to centenarians in my other column, and whenever I have asked them to what did they attribute living to such a ripe old age, they all have one answer in common: “I just live.”
Now, most of them hit hard times — they all lived through the Great Depression, two world wars, the bomb, the Cold War, and segregation. Yet the stressors of those times did not affect their longevity, and not one of them said, “I took many supplements, ate right, and slept eight hours a night.”
Scientists tell us that in order to extend our lives we must relieve stress, eat the foods that are good, avoid the ones that are bad (although those change from day to day) and take our vitamins. After all, we all live very stressful lives.
But not one expert has instructed us to “just live” — the simplest of all instructions to follow.
We waste so many precious moments each and every day worrying about dying — and how to prevent it — that we forget how to just live.
When we should be enjoying each day, eating the foods we love, having fun, and being a kid — leaving the processed junk behind, both figuratively and literally — we spend hours researching what to do and what to take to live forever.
About this time every year, a pair of ducks land in my pool, swim around for a few days, and then take off to parts unknown. Each morning I am greeted by the sound of flapping wings, water splashing, and the honking of the duo. They are just living.
It wasn’t until now that I appreciated them. The “aha moment” clicked and the bulb turned on.
I suddenly realized how much of my life I had spent not living, but instead just worrying about dying. Running to doctors every time I discovered a lump or a bump, each time my joints ached, and every time my blood pressure spiked, I worried about dying and what should I do. Never once did it occur to me to just stop, take a deep breath, and enjoy the day.
Millennials have the right idea, they just live. “YOLO,” my daughter tells me, is the way to go. “You only live once,” she says — and she, along with the rest of her generation, are correct.
I’m not saying not to go to your doctor when something is wrong, or not to have those annual check-ups. After all, the best prevention is early detection, but I do think that we all need to spend less time worrying and more time living.
Not for Nuthin,™ but the closer I get to that seven-decade mark, the more I realize that 70 ain’t so old after all. It is an attainable age, and one I plan on reaching. To one and all, YOLO.
Follow me on Twitter @JDelBuono.