Passion Full Circle


I just bumped into my 86 year old neighbor, Maria Callas. (Opera singer by name only.) Back in 2000 she lost her husband Johnny Callas of 50 years. They we’re a soulful-happy couple and she’s quick to share how much she misses him.

Yet in life she persists. She loves the movies, reads anything the library will lend her, and can be seen gallivanting around Brooklyn with her gal pal who lives next door. As I’m about to walk away, she sings out, ‘I’ve an awful crush on Tom Selleck.’

I’m in good health, a bit sleep deprived, a few grey hairs, and my eyes are weakening from too much computer. But if the world goes according-to- Maria, I’ve got another 40 plus years ahead. Which means I’d better come up with a rigorous life plan that will lift-me-up-and-pull-me-forward. No Botox injections or head-to-toe transformational surgery, either. I’m thinking inside out alterations.

Admittedly, I’m not keen on how gravity has been tugging at my body. And the societal message that aging is wretched, lonely, and un-cool, can be niggling. So I‘ve co-opted the good doctor Andrew Weils, mantra: ‘growing old is not something to deny, avoid, or be afraid of.’ In his book HEALTHY AGING, he confirms it can be done gracefully, but there’s no way around the physical changes that come with growing older.

Quick make a list.

Phil Keogh The host of the TV show, THE AMAZING RACE, who after a near death experience at the age of 19, in his seize the day lifestyle, created a list for life, a tick-box of things he wants to do before he dies. The list would appeal to any modern day pioneer. Travel into outer space. Become a ball boy in the U.S. Open. Climb Mt. Everest, and take Oprah Winfrey skydiving. On his website noopportunitywasted.com mutual romantics are asked to submit their own life lists. Ideas that range from owning little farms to meeting Mohamed Ali.

I sense a pattern here. My writing teacher prompts us to list anything that preoccupies our hearts & minds. A record of our obsessions. My list reads as a collection of cultural & occupational escapades.

1. Marginal art
2. Photo treks
3. NPR
4. Positive Psych
5. Real Estate
6. Marfa Texas
7. Tiny Businesses
and
8. Babies.

‘Babies‘?

I spend a lot of time with a friend who’s charmed by the minutia of the simplest things. We chat about the pros and cons of band aids, the pleasures of giving kisses all over, and the giddiness of making drinking straws talk. He’s a 3 year old passion catalyst.

Walt Whitman, The Moth, Phillipe Petit, The Mud Truck, and The Highline: All Passion Catalysts.

Here’s some interesting facts. The American Council on Education, says, there are thousands of undergraduates over 65 including Geneva Long who at 96 received her degree at Skidmore College. And six percent of all serving as Peace Corps volunteers are over the age of 50 and well into their eighties. (More passion catalysts.)

If you thought your golden years would be best spent in recline, think again. Andrew Weil continues in his just do it manner, that 30 – 40 minutes of daily physical activity is vital for an ‘optimum’ approach to aging well.

Next, the Journal of Gerontology: Medical Sciences chimes in, that regular exercise may speed up the wound-healing process by as much as 25 percent. Exercise tells the body to grow. Sitting too long tells the body to decay.

Off the couch. If I could, I’d throw it out altogether. That alone would get the heart rate up. But, the instructions are clear, retirement is hard work. Unless of course, one reverts back to that tick box of obsessions.

Passion Full Circle.

1. Guerilla garden. (Plant flowers outside peoples apartments when they’re asleep)
2. Buy a pink house. **
3. Spend a summer riding my bike around Vietnam
4. Prepare a feast for my family
5. Take Photographs of people who live in tree houses.

On my bulletin board there’s a picture of Samuel Beckett, my future pink house, a yellow Vespa, and other inspirational quotes, mantras, and cutouts. I recently added to the collection an eccentrically grey haired senior, who’s sporting a red bow that looks like a queens crown. In her multi-colored argyle shirt and pink spandex pants, she leans her sneaker clad foot against a brick wall and casually smokes a cigar. And in the background of my imagination, I can hear Maria Callas belt out, ‘I’m in this game until the end.”

*Several months after writing this essay, I bought an apartment next door to the most beautiful Pink Victorian House.

And one week ago today, Maria Callas, sang her last Hallelujah. May she rest in peace.

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