Present Progressive, Present Regressive

During the holiday I’ve shared bread with a couple of women, during two family meals. I usually don’t write about my personal life, but this weekend I’ve realized something important about people.

So, here they are, my not so random sample of  ladies from a prior generation. One is in her early eighties, the other is in her late nineties. The younger of the two complained the entire evening – she has given up her car this year, she can’t figure out how to use a computer, she’s cooped up and has nothing to do. In general, she feels as if her best days are behind her and she mourns everything she has lost. The older still plays the piano with her friends, translates old documents for Yad Vashem, bought a computer so she can contact her living relatives in Europe and asked my sister what Facebook is. Basically, she’s hoping to do and learn many more things.

I was shocked. Such different approaches to old age.

Looking backwards

Most people fear the unknown. That’s why most people fight change and try to keep the status-quo. Here are a couple examples:

  • Rupert Murdoch, owner of news and media channels, blocks Google from indexing his websites in an attempt to block the decline of journalism.
  • The music industry, in an attempt to battle piracy and keep its profits, filed lawsuits against their own customers. No need to mention that this strategy amounted to very little.

It seems impossible to stop the progress of time, as much as we may try. Looking back at how things have changed will not help you prepare to the life ahead of you. Once you believe you are obsolete, that is what you will become. When you try to stay in the past, you decay.

So remember, kids:

People fear the future, that becomes the present they hate, that turns to the past they love.

Looking forwards

Others look at the future as the field of opportunity. They embrace change, and they accept the chaos change brings with it. If you are reading this post, I bet you belong in this group as well. Most people don’t read blogs yet (let alone write one).

It seems as if everybody is talking about Twitter these days. Do you have an account? Congratulations. You are an early adopter. You are part of less than 5% of the population that adopted this service. If I must guess, you also vote for the liberal party.

As the world progresses, the forward looking individual has more to live for. New opportunities, new experiences, new things to try. She is open to experience, and so, fifteen years older, she still lives an active life (although she no longer drives, no longer swims every morning, no longer teaches). I think this activity helps keep the mind and body sharp and protect her from (some of) the ailments of old age.

After all:

“My interest is in the future because I am going to spend the rest of my life there” – Charles F. Kettering

Tips for a long life

I don’t know if there’s any statistical data to support my thesis, but I hope there is. Modern medicine provides us with longer lives, but it is still our jobs to make the most of them. Here are my tips for a long life:

  1. Keep learning – learn something new everyday. There are easy ways to do it. Subscribe to a few blogs, watch video lectures, take online courses. Start now.
  2. Stay fit – work out, keep in shape. This is the only body you have, and you want it to last for a long time. Stop smoking. Don’t drink so much coffee (I’m still working on this one). Eat healthy. Exercise. Start today.
  3. Seek real human connection – technology helps us keep weak connections with our peers. Facebook is not a replacement to going out for a drink on Friday nights. Meet your friends in real life. Listen, don’t just talk. It’s not about updating your status. It’s about getting updated.
  4. Get involved – try and connect with a cause bigger than yourself. It doesn’t have to be something noble. It can be something fun. Just join a movement.

And never forget:

If you eat one apple every day for 120 years,

you will live a long life.