I have noticed an amazing phenomenon since moving to Maine. There must be a fountain of youth somewhere nearby. No one gets old here! It’s true. People still have birthdays, their hair turns gray, and the years pass, but no one gets “old.” For instance, our neighbors next door are in their late sixties early seventies. They split and stacked 8 cords of wood this winter and were ready to do more. They spend all their time hosting events and running the senior center, and they push much harder than most people 20 years their junior. They are incredible.
Our husband and wife pastoral team who are at retirement age have gone snow skiing this weekend. The wife does a cattle drive in Wyoming every summer, riding horseback and sleeping out along the trail. They could both out-run me any day of the week and they still work hard every day. Their zest for life is inspirational.
I see this kind of age defying behavior all the time. I have been watching closely and trying to determine what the secret of their youthful success is. Here is what I have surmised so far:
People take responsibility for themselves. Maine is a challenging state to live in. You have to be physically able to handle the winters which include shoveling lots of snow and staying healthy during long cold periods. People here have developed a sense of personal responsibility. They do not expect anyone to take care of them or pamper them. They tend to be determined to take care of themselves which seems to foster a sense strength and personal power.
People stay busy. It’s just not cool to be lazy in Maine. Folks here love to stay active and involved. Many have to continue to work because the economy is difficult so they stay connected with other people and the community via their jobs.
People embrace nature. We live in the midst of profound natural beauty and people drink it in. Television watching is low on the priority list. People walk their dogs, go for a run, take a boat out on the water, fish or hunt, hike or bird watch. There is an appreciation of the beauty of nature and a desire to interact with it.
Age is appreciated. In this culture the longer you have survived the tougher you are. There is a general respect for elders rather than a dismissal of them. Youth is not worshipped like it is in other places. In this tougher climate the elders have the wisdom and experience – not the young. Physical beauty is not as highly valued as it is in other places either. Experience and stamina are worth far more.
People keep contributing. My husband works at a local hardware store where one employee has been assigned her own area to sell things for charity. It is called “Perk’s Place.” At the end of a row, “Perk” sells little items that are crafted or donated to raise money for the needy. People call her Perk because she is so perky and joyful to be around. Every month she raises money and donates it. She is an inspiration to everyone who meets her because she is so alive! Perk is past retirement age but she just keeps going.
What does all this have to do with Goodness? Well it seems to me that the more “life” we get out of life the more Goodness we have. If you are going to live, then plan to do it fully to the very end.
“Live Well, Live Deeply, Live Completely!”
Do you know the secret to Eternal Youth? Goodness knows.