Victor Schukov

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You’re only as old as you feel

This month I turn 60. Many people I know get deeply disturbed when they turn big, round decimals. One recently asked me, “Do you feel 60?” Strange, I had never thought about it until asked. My immediate response was, “I don’t feel any different from 20, 30, 40, 50 or 60.” He was intrigued, so I elaborated:

There is practically nothing I can’t do that I could when I was at any younger age. I can walk 10 miles non-stop, do heavy garden work and lift doable heavy objects. I am the same weight as when I entered university at 17 years old. The only thing I can’t do is run real fast for any length of time. Today, if I had a breakaway in broomball, I would drop dead before I got to the net. So, that being an extreme cardio thing, I happily retired from all team sports at the ripe ol’ age of 40.

However, feeling the same as you grow older is not the same as looking the same. Forty per cent of my original hair has migrated from my head to other parts, my jowls approach that of a Rottweiler’s and I have creases where I don’t need them. At a recent university reunion, my old friends looked to me like they had been through a Hollywood studio make-over to look older for a movie. (But the grey hair was nice and distinguishable, whoever had some.)

As a specimen, I’ve never had an operation, never broken anything, never had a procedure of any kind and I still even have my tonsils. I have never been to a hospital or a clinic except to drop off or visit someone. As you may very well have an opinion about all this, I can agree that to some extent this is due to good genes and some luck. But, I think it is also due to a few other things. I don’t like sugar, chocolate or salt. I eat two, not three, light meals a day. And I never forgot what a nurse told me years ago: Take long walks daily; good for the heart, good for the mind and body. So I do that every day for two hours. I do believe also that a positive attitude affects physical health. That is generally accepted, although difficult to clinically qualify.

I never eat Kentucky Fried Chicken more than once a year; that stuff is lethal, only to be taken rarely as a sinful pleasure. I inhale about a pack of cigarettes every year, all from secondary smoke at bus stops. I don’t like alcohol too much and sometimes I wish I did because banging my head against a wall is an unpleasant form of cheap stress relief. Besides, the last time I got drunk I ended up banging my head against the wall after tripping over my cat. (She was okay, by the way, although I am still convinced that she walked away snickering.)

Oh, and one more thing that may be a factor: In my attic, I have a mysterious painting of myself that feels crappier and crappier every day while I remain healthy.  Hmmm… If only I could have a portrait done that ages instead of me.

 

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