My friend Esther is 95, in fact she will be 96 this coming week, and if you looked at her you wouldn’t think her capable of anything other than good conversation. This pre-judgment however would be a gross misunderstanding of exactly who she is and where she has come from. Taking a quick look at a very frail but cognitive lady, with silver-grey hair, wrinkled skin and a very slow deliberate walk, would perhaps give one the impression that Esther is not too long for this world. Making a hasty decision from the way she peers relentlessly over the top of her spectacles, might just leave you with the impression that Esther can’t see past her own nose. All of the above would give cause for just brushing her aside as just another old foggie, just one more pensioner who has outlived their use on this planet, just an old withered lady, looking to pass time until time passes her. But, upon closer inspection there lies an incredible human being who has led the most unbelievable life and who, without doubt, is one of the most interesting and athletic people I have ever had the pleasure of getting to know. You see Esther is no ordinary 95-year-old. Esther is special, she is an anomaly, she defies nature and she is the only person, even at this incredible age, who I know that can put both her legs behind her head in the yoga position called Dwi Pada Sirsasana !
Esther was born in Los Angeles, has lived in Seattle, San Francisco and Santa Rosa, and right up to the age of 90, was in her element when traveling the globe with her son and daughter to places like Africa, for safari, South America, to see the Galapagos Islands, and even to Palm Springs, where, up until last year, she could be found on a retreat for the over 80’s, practicing wellness and yoga and also attending lectures on how to create an inner karma which she says has kept her going to this ripe old age with nothing more than the occasional cold. Esther’s life has been charmed, her ability to share her life with her friends and family, charming, and her thirst for knowledge and willingness to be true to her beliefs, ignoring modern medicine and sticking mainly to eastern or asian methods to cure her minuscule ailments, tantamount to her success in attaining 95 years on the planet. But if you ask Esther what her biggest regret is or what the most important thing her 95 years have taught her? Her immediate response is, “No one ever told me how difficult it would be to live in a 95-year-old body with a 25-year-old mind” This is something she has struggled with for more than the last decade, and even with her ability to enjoy relatively great health, she tells me constantly when we go for our monthly lunches, that living in a body which is incapable of doing what the mind wants it to do, is nothing but degrading and disturbing. She would even go so far as to say humiliating. Coming from Esther, that’s pretty harsh, but it got me to thinking how I would cope when and if I am lucky enough to attain the ripe old age of 90, which by the way, I don’t see as being old. To me 110 plus is what I want to aim for, and intend to achieve.
At the age of 54, my mind is as sharp if not sharper that it’s ever been, and my body, well my body seems to be working in the fashion for which it was designed, with nothing other than an odd ache and pain. The aches and pains are complimentary to the physical abuse I give each limb in my daily work out routine, but in general, I feel like a teen, or perhaps 20 something, running around unashamed of the 54 years that I actually bare. My thoughts go back to my early years when my peers were continuously telling me ‘wait until you get to 50’ or ‘you’ll not be doing that when your my age’ To be honest, it scared the crap out of me that one day I might be like them, but now that I am them, I am nothing like I remember them being and I am certainly not telling anyone that they should be wary of turning 50 or older due to the ailments that might haunt them at that age and into later life. No, I am positive that my body is just a younger version of Esther’s and that 110 is definitely possible. Falling apart has not happened to me, well not yet anyway, and even through thick and thin, with injuries, ailments and disease, I have recovered, often at break neck speed, and come back even stronger than I was before being afflicted.
30 was mentally horrible, 40 was nothing and 50 was just a breeze. I am convinced that the more you look after yourself, the easier it becomes to approach and accept old age, and although no one can predict accidental death or terminal illness, living is what we are here for, so why not try to live as long as possible? I have never smoked, drunk alcohol or done drugs. I rarely take pills for illness, and Esther tells me exactly the same thing about her life. No chemicals, and no ambition to die early. I want what she has, she says ‘don’t wish for what you want because what you want might not be what you expect.’ There is no doubt in my mind that she is one of a kind, I intend to make it two of a kind and therefore common place.
I have little time for those who are my age who complain about minor aches and pains. I have even less time for those who sit around moping or those who have become inactive. To be like my friend Esther takes courage, guts and discipline. Do you have what it takes? Do you want to make it to 90? Some say yes, others I know really don’t care. I for one have a goal, hopeful a goal that will make sense and be enjoyable, and although Esther has been very clear with her willingness to be truthful and honest I still believe that her experience will not be mine and that when I do eventually make it to 110, I will be as active then as I am right now.
Happy birthday Esther!
I am taking a short break. No more blogging for about a week. See you after that!