Apparently, 64-year-old Petrow drew the lessons he learned from his aging parents as material, but in reality, he offers much more than that.
Petrow writes essays for the Washington Post Y New York Times on aging, health, and civility, and in full revelation is someone I know from my work on the board as a fellow alumnus at Duke University.
What I discovered is more than a few tips when it comes to tackling aging issues that resonated with me and I trust you, too.
Petrow sets the stage by stating that by “writing these promises, I hoped to make sure I remembered (and kept) them. By sharing them in this book, I hope that others can become more aware of the decisions we make once we start to think of ourselves as ‘old’.
Write: “Is it me? . . old? It’s certainly a question that I have a lot on my mind these days. It is also on the minds of many of the seventy million Baby Boomers, now that we are all over fifty-five. “
His conclusion is that it basically depends on our physical and mental health. He quotes former President Jimmy Carter’s explanation in his book, The virtues of aging. Carter wrote: “The correct answer is that each of us is old when we think we are, when we accept an attitude of lethargy, dependence on others, a substantial limitation of our physical and mental activity … This is not closely linked how many years we have lived. “
In one chapter, Petrow takes us with him to a surfing lesson when he was 60 years old and his awareness of insidious fear stimulated perhaps unconsciously by age.
I identified myself because I still jump with my horse on show jumping courses in competition and, after a lifetime of doing this, I am now surprised by sudden flashes of fear seconds before my horse is ready to leave the ground.
“It turns out that in surfing, as in life, the fear of falling can lead to more falls,” writes Petrow. His instructor pointed out that his aging body was not really the impediment. “It was my attitude, my fear.” The instructor added: “Hesitation is totally the enemy. If you’re not fully engaged, you’re history. “Surfing well, his instructor told Petrow, is” like not thinking. You’re in the moment. “
His niece, Jessie, who is with him, says: “There is an element of risk every time you get up because there is always the possibility that you will fall. But do you have the confidence, the will to take the leap, when you don’t know the specified conditions every time? “
Petrow watches Jessie surf. He keeps his eyes “on the prize, which on the board means looking directly toward shore,” he writes. “I couldn’t help but think about the many times that distraction had undermined me, personally and professionally, by drawing my attention away from the goal.”
Finally, his wise instructor reminds him. Don’t let fear get in the way of living your dreams. It will hurt you, ”he said. “Usually fear stops you and creates anxiety.”
I needed to get propelled by those navigation tips, although it is not an activity that I have ever been attracted to. Those are universal life instructions in my mind. I guess each of you has something in your life that you can relate that feeling to.
Petrow reflects on the importance of having younger friends. He recalls how a woman he was a younger follower of for over 20 years once told him: “Having younger friends opens up your world. They broaden your perspective. “
He digs deep. “She also understood, intuitively, that close friendships in old age were a strong predictor of greater longevity and, yes, greater happiness,” he writes.
And here is the heart of the matter that speaks to me out loud. His younger friends have “hopes, dreams and goals that my older friends just don’t have the energy for,” he continues.
That’s the fountain of youth for sure.
Another line of comments that Petrow gives that seems appropriate to me is the importance of being gentle and compassionate towards our elderly parents. It is the suggestion that it is okay to lie sometimes.
I know this cold. My 91-year-old mother has dementia and sometimes thinks she’s in her early 20s and just graduated from college. This was a very happy time in his life. Rather than correct her, which, of course, is a natural instinct, I have learned to agree with her.
As Petrow writes: “You don’t look at the people around you. Don’t laugh softly. You’re not kiding “.
He overcomes his “natural aversion to lying” and is “respectful of the ‘other’ realities in which my loved ones live,” he writes. “It doesn’t hurt anyone and it helps a lot to join them briefly in their imaginary world. I hope that others will also visit me if I do a similar trip. “
Finally, in a chapter entitled: “I will not stop believing in magic”, Petrow emphasizes the joy of being a child again. “Or perhaps it is more accurate to say that I chose to look at the world through the eyes of a child,” he writes. “For example, growing up, I had a sense of wonder that knew no bounds … I believed in the unknown and the unknowable, even in the impossible. Over time, I grew up and became a ‘phony bah’ kind of person … Somewhere along the way I lost my sense of wonder. “
For me, this is cool. My husband and I recently added a yellow lab puppy, Elly, to our home. And, boy, has this reminded me of the sheer wonder of seeing a butterfly floating for the first time, as it happily leaps toward it, or the clink of water dripping off a tin roof in a storm, as you bow your head? out of curiosity, or for the beauty of just getting down on the floor and playing with her and a squeaky stuffed animal… with abandon.
Pure enjoyment. And yes, laugh.
Kerry Hannon is an expert and strategist in work and employment, entrepreneurship, personal finance and retirement. Kerry is the author of more than a dozen books, including Great Pajama Jobs: Your Complete Guide to Working From Home, You are never too old to get rich: the entrepreneur’s guide to starting a business in middle age, Great jobs for those over 50, Y Trust in money. Follow her on twitter @kerryhannon.