I want to be like John when I grow up
John was moving so fast that I hardly got the chance to sneak a few photos, much less get his permission to use his image (hence the bush in his mug, above). However he was so affable that I suspect he might not have minded. We were discussing his life, and he was so full of stories that I was far more engaged with that.
That's what I want to share.
A little background. Every Wednesday I head the 90 minutes to the Central Oregon Coast. There I hike the sand dunes for about an hour, which is a habit I started after breaking my hip last July.
For those keeping track, I began with three laps. I am today up to ten, now carrying a backpack with ten lbs in it, which swings all over the place when I run down the soft sand.
That's great for balance work, by the way.
Then I head north to lovely Yachats, where I buy cookies and sourdough for my neighbors, then sit and read with the pounding waves next to my right shoulder, soft mist pouring into my car.
Today, however, I'd had breakfast in my fave little cafe on 101, and three coffees.
Three coffees. Did I say coffee is a diuretic? You knew that.
So by the time I was getting ready to pass the turnoff to Cummins Creek Trail, I was in serious need of relief.
That turnoff allows one to find a quiet bush without an audience. I whipped in, parked and got ready to take care of business. Today however, I had an audience.
Along the dirt road which disappeared into the distance, John was striding towards me at speed, dressed in spiffy bright red and black Arcteryx gear, at a pace which would exhaust most mortals. I waved, and he stopped. I'm so glad he did, because what he said was worth passing along.
First, he informed me that the road I'd pulled in on was a touch over four miles, almost five, mostly a gentle rise. So, about a ten-mile round-trip hike, thereabouts, but not terribly strenuous. That is fantastic news for me, for I love that hiking area. I can't do the Cummins Creek trail because of the steep incline, at least until my right foot heals. So what a gift.
Now I have a longer coastal hike that I can do after I finish the dunes.
Second, he launched into a litany of all the places he'd hiked all over the world, from Bariloche to El Chalten and other spots where I'd been, and/or hiked. The conversation was very lively. In fact I could barely keep up.
His wife had died some time back, about which he was very sad, but here he was, like our friend Randy Roig, training hard for the Next Big Thing, putting in at least twenty to thirty miles every week in what I consider to be the prettiest place on earth.
Of course he was sad, he said, but he had a life to live.
Then he dropped my favorite bomb. He told me he'd be 85 next week or thereabouts (I was badly in need of a bush and he was talking so fast I missed that one). Eighty-five.
We have a whole nation of folks checking out at fifty. I'm so OLD, they say. Done. Washed up. I hurt all over, Blah-de-blah-de-blah.
Randy Roig hurts, I'll bet. He and his wife have plenty of metal in their bodies with new joints, just as I have plenty of metal, as do many of us fortunate enough to have had such procedures which keep us moving. We make the most of it, too.
The stiffness and occasional pain are part of the price paid to be out doing what John's doing, what the Roigs are doing, what many of us are doing, seeing the world, enjoying extraordinary good health and vitality.
By the way, John doesn't own a computer. He hates TV and won't go to movies, instead spending his time exercising, socializing, traveling. The older I get the less motivated I am to sit and watch, unless I have to get some PT done, which right now is nightly. So....patience.
John is in life in all its fullness. He did admit to post-op and injury down time, we all get that, but once given the green light, John was up and striding again.
I really hope to be just like that in fourteen years.
Clearly reading my body language, John grinned at me. We shook hands, exchanged first names and he sped off. In fact he sped off so swiftly that I barely had enough time to aim, click, and capture John as he sped off into the misty distance towards the coast.
Something to that, too.
Research says that one of the determinants of healthy aging is how fast we walk. I love a swift stride, which has been hampered somewhat by the foot surgery. Still, I like putting on the afterburners, as it feels so good to walk with wind in my hair.
Here's the research which speaks to that:
If that's one of the true indicators, John will be striding for a good long time yet.
One of the great gifts of being curious and a journalist is conversations like these. I end up inspired, motivated and energized, even if my feet hurt (they do) and there's a long way yet to go (there is).
Those are minor inconveniences when we are gifted with life, most of our limbs, most of our grey matter and the option to be in life in full.
John is old, but he isn't elderly, in the sense that the word lands so negatively on so many of us. There are lots of ways to age. His is one of them.
And I am all in.
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