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Redefining Aging, Lessons From Life

By Blog Master
Posted: 09/01/2021

At the Pasadena Village we describe our activities and goals as "redefining aging," the period of life that we find ourselves in now, generally described as "aging," is an unexplored terrain. We are learning about it as we experience it and learning how to deal with it successfully.  We take our lessons from all around us as we find them.


On the morning of Sunday, August 22nd, I watched the CBS morning show and found a rich menu of inspiration to consider. There were six episodes which I found particularly enlightening.


In the first episode, there was an interview with a young man who was born with no arms. He's a gold medalist in the Paralympics and competes successfully against “able bodied” archers. On the range, what sets him apart from the others is that he is seated while they are standing.  He drives an unmodified automobile, can change the tire himself, and he feeds himself at a table with no assistance. The magnitude of his challenge overwhelmed my imagination, and I could not conceive of a possibility to meet this challenge and yet he is doing it.


The next episode was an interview with the ninety-two year old inventor of the cell phone. The episode began with a long list of industries that we all know that would not exist without the cellphone, with Uber and Lyft in the lead. This man was an executive at Motorola who created the first mobile phone as a car phone, which many of us recall was the size of a small shoe box. In his words, this tied the phone operation to the automobile in a similar way that the landline was tied to a residence or an office. He saw a need to liberate the phone from that tether. In 1973, he demonstrated a working cellphone that could be easily carried and used free of that tether. Still active at ninety-two, he stated his belief that living means learning and being open to new experiences. That is the takeaway message that we need to get from this creative and vibrant individual. Here is an active ninety-two year old man who recognized an opportunity and changed the world and summarized the lessons he passes on perfectly.


The third episode of interest was an interview with a ninety-four year old woman who works every day on her own boat as a lobster fisherman in Penobscot Bay.  She is known for not missing a day of work in years and says her retirement will take place when she dies. Her only assistant on the boat is her son, who is also part of the "aging population”. I am amazed at the simple fact that the ninety-four year old woman lives such a demanding and physically active life which is an impressive illustration of what is possible.


Next came the story of a man who was intrigued by an abandoned mining town named Cerro Gordo. With only enough funds to put down earnest money on the property, he committed to purchase the three hundred and eighty-four acre tract that was the town. Living there all alone he has raised additional funds to rebuild the town. Promoting it on the web, he has turned it into an attraction that draws volunteers from all over to assist him. He has turned it into a tourist attraction that will bring in paying visitors to the renovated hotel. Here is a man who stepped off into the unknown and instinctively took on a challenge with no idea of how he would meet it, but he made the commitment anyway.


The fifth episode was a veteran returning from Afghanistan with serious wounds who has founded an organization to help other similarly affected veterans deal with their adjustments to civilian life. This man’s life and capabilities were totally changed by the injuries he sustained but without hesitation he took that as an opportunity to turnaround and engage his energies in helping others who suffered the same plight.


The last episode was about a neonatologist who writes and performs music where he sings about the challenges of his career that involve the certainty that he will lose patients routinely. The emotional burden of losing an infant patient and the impact that has on the family and the doctor, is a fact of his life. This man refuses to be overwhelmed by the certain failure and emotional stress that his career guarantees him, and he carries on with the important work that he does to accomplish what he can.


The message I take away from this morning's experience is to look around you and be open to learning from what you see. Each of these stories represented to me an illustration of someone dealing successfully with enormous challenges which puts the challenges that I encounter into a completely different perspective. As I looked at what these people have accomplished, I am struck by what they achieve because of their positive attitude and the courage they display in facing and taking on the challenges before them. I realize that if I employ similar attitudes and can muster the courage that they display, I can deal successfully with the circumstances that I encounter.



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