I’ve lived consciously for some time now, not perfect, but at least aware of the things that I’m speaking or saying. Recently, I’d decided to press a little bit more into my views on aging. I wanted to believe that I could age well…die of old age and not some dreaded disease. If I could get my mind to cooperate, to let go of generations of societal conditioning that equates aging to decline and for me at times could conjure up pictures of feebleness, I’d be home free.
Something happened to me yesterday that gave me all the incentive I needed.
My husband and I were having a lazy Sunday. We stopped after church to pick up something to eat, intending to rest for the remainder of the day. No big deal. As we were paying for the food, an elderly gentleman was standing next to us. Something about him captured me and I wanted to say hello. I struck up a conversation with him. He smiled at me with his entire being; it was as if his soul was filled with sunshine. With laugh lines at the corner of his eyes, he began to tell me the story of his life.
Amazing…he had done lots of things, had a spectacular career and had recently lost his sweetheart of almost 70 years. The loss was still deep for him, I could tell, and when he spoke of her passing, the sunshine in his soul dimmed a bit. For me it was evidence of a full life. Work you loved, children you were proud of and a partnership with another human being that you loved so much, when they were gone, you deeply felt the loss. To me, everyone should have a love like that.
Here’s what struck me the most about this amazing gentleman. The manager of the restaurant walked by in a hurry and saw my husband and I speaking to Mr. Sullivan. He said, “You know, he’s rode the Banshee twice this year.”
Hunh? That’s a roller coaster… and pretty harrowing from what I’ve heard. It twists and turns, even turns the riders upside down a few times. I won’t ride a rollercoaster at my age. At his age, I would think something like that would be downright dangerous. He rode it twice!
I stared at him blankly. “You rode the Banshee?” I said.
He seemed amused by my response. He chuckled, again revealing the beautiful laugh lines at the corner of his eyes, and responded….“Why would I stop doing the things I love? Just because I’m 91?”
And there it was. Proof. Proof that the mind controls it all. I knew he was older but I would have never guessed he was 91. He was evidence that beliefs can override our societal norms and conditioning. This man didn’t really believe in the aging process. Not the way we know it. I studied him. His shirt was clean and pressed. He had all of his teeth and they were in pretty good condition for someone his age I might say. He was obviously still practicing good hygiene. Still enjoying good food. And imagine me and my husband’s surprise when he peeled past us and out of the parking lot driving at a pretty good speed. I expected to see a little weaving, but as he trucked down the street, his car was well between the lines.
I was completely inspired by my conversation with him. It was good to see the fruits of a life well lived–a life continuing to be well lived. And I want that for myself, for the rest of my time here on planet earth. My mind is made up.
The words he reiterated as we walked out the door will always be with me. “Why would I stop doing the things that I love because I’m 91.”
Why would you Mr. Sullivan…why would you?
To your journey,
Tonya Lampley is a fiction author and Certified Life Coach. She writes stories about life, love and the journey and blogs on topics for living a successful life. Her debut novel was titled A Taste of Love and was a 2012 NIEA finalist. Her second book is titled Indiscretion. Both books are available on Amazon. For more information about Tonya and her works please visit www.TonyaLampley.com. Free short story available here!