This I Believe

Terryl - Larkspur, California
Entered on March 28, 2007
Age Group: 30 - 50
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I believe in Senior Water Aerobics

I have a 92 year-old neighbor friend, Ruth, who drives her self to her water aerobics class every day. Yep. Every day. And, every day she walks by my condo to her car, albeit slowly, I say to myself: “That’s the way I want to be when I’m her age.”

I’ve met a few inspiring seniors like Ruth. For instance, there’s George, whom I met at the Home Depot a couple years ago, and whom I’ve never forgotten. I’m not sure how old he is; I’m guessing he’s in his early 80’s. He was helping me choose some stepping-stones for my garden and somehow we got to talking about flowers, and then seeds, and then somehow his family, and then how he got to California. I walked away inspired and in awe. George was so passionate about flowers and about helping others to see the beauty in how they transformed from a seedling to an exquisite flower. He didn’t have a garden of his own because he had to move to an apartment when his wife died several earlier. What inspired me is that George found a way to continue his passion – for growing flowers and for living a full life. He’s yet another senior that makes me say to myself, “I’m going to be like him when I get older.”

People like Ruth and George inspire me so much that when I spot someone like them I try to spark up a conversation. I can notice the “Ruth’s” and “George’s” more easily now. They have a sparkle in their eyes – I think from living an active and inspired life. I like to get to know these people; I’m curious about how, and even when, they decide to choose a life of being more alive and present than their peers. Maybe it’s the recruiter in me. I’m naturally interested in learning what makes people tick and why they choose to live their lives the way they do. At work, I’m curious about why a person makes career decisions and why they highlight one accomplishment over another – but when I’m thinking about my life, thinking about being present, engaged, and Pro-active in my spiritual growth, I inevitably draw towards the “Ruth’s” and “George’s” in the world and to what they represent.

And, the more “Ruth’s” and “George’s” I meet the more it gets me thinking… If I’m going to be like these inspiring seniors then now’s the time to start. Over the years I have become more and more conscious of how I spend my time. Am I doing something that is stimulating me? Evolving me in some way? Am I consciously choosing to chill out in front of the TV, or am I mindlessly passing time, and wasting my precious life on this earth. Just to clarify, I believe there is nothing wrong with watching TV or mindlessly surfing the Internet. Nothing beats an hour of a mind numbing sitcom, the random rainy Sunday movie marathon, or getting lost in the World Wide Web. We all need to decompress once in a while. My point is that these activities, and other activities like them – activities I label the “pauses” in life – are good, healing, and necessary to keep balanced. But! I believe we should do them consciously and use them for what they are – the rests between the activities.

Recently I went to an art exhibit of a well-known artist, Ruth Osawa. The show was stimulating but what inspired me most was her comment about life. She said that every minute we’re attached to this earth we should be doing something. Just like a plant that’s planted in the earth, it is constantly growing.

Yes, I believe that it doesn’t matter what we do because there is no upward effort that is made in vain. All we need do is keep our engines running and create inspirational habits now. It doesn’t matter if we are 9 or 92. It’s never too late to start. It’s never too late to reach for our life, like a plant reaches for the sun.