Ira after 1000 non-stop crunches—4/5/2012

Today I am 71 years old and have been writing on this web site for exactly three years. Although the age number sounds ancient—and I am definitely a little scared to be this old—I am thrilled beyond anything you can imagine that I have survived at all for one more year. And I am still enjoying good health. I remain grateful for so many parts of my life, and I am constantly reminded by less fortunate friends—and strangers read about and seen in media—how really crappy life CAN be and actually IS for vast numbers of humans. Of course I have setbacks and disappointments, struggles, anxieties and fears. But they are in the past, and as much as possible, I keep on looking forward.

The Buddhists say Life is Suffering. M.Scott Peck (who lived and worked just a few miles from me) says in his book, The Road Less Traveled (10 million sold), that Life is difficult. It is filled with problems and pain. It takes discipline to deal with them. It is only because of the problems that we grow mentally and physically. Many people attempt to avoid problems and suffering instead of dealing with them.

Somehow I have been able to wend my way through and around many of my problems. It’s not clear to me how or why I achieved this. I attacked them obliquely or confronted others head on. But I credit much of the progress to chance, luck and good genes. All around me are contemporaries who have had serious illnesses, injured their limbs or were born with organs that let them down. Some of these incidents might have been prevented if they’d eaten less or exercised more or paid a bit more attention. But a few are sick, because their military service resulted in exposure to toxic chemicals. Maybe, like my father, they looked left instead of right and were hit by a car…or like a friend who looked straight ahead and broke legs, when he fell through a hole in a roof. Others went on vacations to remote places and came back with lifelong diseases. Life can be so cruel.

When I was working full-time, I almost never exercised. I just couldn’t make time for it. It’s only now that I am semi-retired, and not forced to work eight-plus hours every day, that I finally have the psychological strength and time to exercise and play sports. Many friends have been enjoying the gym and sports their whole lives. They had to do this. It was not a choice. It is who they are. And when you exert yourself like that, you will have injuries, soreness, and wear out your body. So by age 71 or younger, they are no longer able to participate.

Fortunately, my genes, my attitude, my diet and now my physical activities have brought me to this wonderful, but totally ridiculous, place, where I care about six-packs, tennis swings and low cholesterol. I want to be fully alive, and good health is the highest priority. I have been sick and confined to hospitals. Without health, you just can’t partake in many of life’s activities. If these words help guide you to a fuller, lengthier and satisfied life, I would love to hear about it. I don’t know how I became who I am. But here I am, making the most of a blessed journey.

I hope you enjoyed this day, my birth day. I just learned that April 5th is also the birthday of Colin Powell, Booker T. Washington, Thomas Hobbes Gregory Peck, Bette Davis, Spencer Tracy and Melvyn Douglas.

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