El Toro Viejo! Thoughts from this “Old Bull” on turning sixty…

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How quickly my life has passed. I mean this in a positive way. Time does indeed fly by when you’re truly living it. I’ll be celebrating a milestone birthday this year as I complete my sixtieth trip around the sun on December 12th. I don’t feel old. In many ways I’ve never felt better. I’m healthy, climbing strong, traveling full time and living in the moment. Perhaps I’m just a lucky soul who was destined to be perpetually young in spirit. Or, just as likely, I’m lost in denial. No matter which scenario rings true it seems to be working well for me.

Sure there are a few subtle reminders of my aging. There’s the every-morning ache of arthritis. Most of my once blond hair is now gray. My vision is far from what it used to be, as the doc would say, “You’re only blind in one eye. You just can’t see out the other.” Etc., etc. Fortunately I’ve found a few simple remedies for most of my age related normalities. Now that I’m retired I have more time at my disposal, which allows me to live a virtually stress free lifestyle. I also credit my consistent yoga practice as an effective age reversal mechanism. I consider myself extremely fortunate to have met and married an incredibly wonderful yogi in the later years of my life. My wife Maggie is not only my personal teacher, she’s my primary motivator. The student was ready and the master did indeed appear!

Unlike many friends or relatives who are close to my age, I find it difficult to spend much time reflecting on the past or living on my laurels. I try to retain certain important life lessons to avoid repeating mistakes, however, I’m typically in motion and full-steam-ahead seeking new adventures. I discovered long ago that living-in-the-moment is also a valuable life practice toward maintaining a forever young existence. With the advent of reaching a milestone birthday, I’ve taken a moment to ponder on a few other items that have served me well toward remaining young at heart…

How I deal with stress…

imageEliminate it! A wise martial arts instructor once advised, “Don’t walk away from negative people… instead… RUN.” I think the same holds true for stressful situations. Sure, there are times when unavoidable stressful moments are bound to occur and simple avoidance is not possible nor practical. During those rare occasions, I find it prudent to take a few deep breaths, deal with the situation as expeditiously as possible and then let go of it forever. As Mark Twain so aptly put it, “When something makes you angry, take four deep breaths. If that doesn’t work, swear!”

Living in the past…

I’ve been asked on several occasions, “If you could go back in time, would I do anything differently?” The answer enters my psyche very quickly, not a chance. Every action I’ve taken, every life experience I’ve enjoyed, every mistake I’ve learned from, every success I’ve relished, every painful experience I’ve endured, every physical injury I’ve patiently survived, every moment of doubt that caused me to waiver, every moment of triumph that helped increase confidence, every social injustice I’ve fought to correct and every personal victory I’ve been lucky enough to experience has contributed to the essence of my existence. If I changed even one thing about the past, it would no longer be me…

Maintaining a secular existence in a world full of religion…

I was once asked by a couple of nice young missionaries if I could answer these three questions… “Who am I? Where did I come? Where will I go when I die?” After only a brief moment of thought, I responded with… “I’m the person you see standing here, nothing more and nothing less. I came from my mother’s womb. Like you, I will be food for worms when I die.” They evidently decided my soul wasn’t worth saving as they left in a bit of a hurry. I like to mention to religious folks that being an atheist is not all that different from being religious. I figure there are at least a thousand different religions in the world, all of which believe they are the one-true-faith. By that logic, only one can be correct. That being the case, it means that the other 999 are incorrect in their belief. If you do the math precisely, every faith is within 99.9% of being atheist as well.

imagePursuing my life’s passion…

Life is pretty much what “we” make of it and it just so happens that I love to climb rocks. My passion for the majority of my life has to been to push my mental, physical and emotional limits via the extreme gymnastic nature of steep sport climbing. I’ve now been climbing for 40 years and if the appeal ever subsides, I will pursue whatever passion takes its place. Currently I cannot think of a better way to spend a life then to seek athletic perfection climbing silly rocks!

Staying fit…

Now that I’m retired, I have a fun fitness routine that consists of climbing hard routes or boulder problems 3-4 days a week. Between climbing days, I do Ashtanga Yoga (short form) 2-3 times per week, typically on rest days. I also do a light push muscle routine a couple of times per week. This routine consists of six sets of ten finger-tip push-ups, five sets of one-hundred abdominal crunches (varied positions) and five sets of twenty leg lifts. This combined with the Ashtanga helps to balance out the frequently used climbing muscles, increases circulation and speeds recovery. On shorter climbing days, I try to finish off the day with a few sets of pull-ups and curl-ups. Maggie and I plan to take a 2-3 months off from route climbing each year to boulder. Ideally this will be during the winter months when the days are short and the temps a little cooler. This should help us build a decent power base for the following climbing season.

Fueling properly…

As Dr. Barry Sears, author of Enter the Zone, so aptly put it, “You’re better off eating properly and doing little exercise, then you are to eat poorly and exercise frequently without regard to proper nutrition.” Proper diet is that important! I discovered the Zone Diet nearly 30 years ago and still swear by its effectiveness. As of this writing, my weight averages 141-143 pounds with a body fat percentage ranging between 2-4%. My height is 5’10”, so that’s a pretty good testament to the effectiveness of fueling in the Zone. I feel that I have a good strength-to-weight ratio for climbing at my advanced age as a result of fueling in the Zone.


In a nutshell…

imageWilliam James eloquently surmised, “The greatest discovery of my time, is that a [person] can change [his/her] life, by simply changing [his/her] attitude.” I’ve cultured an attitude of a forever young existence. I’m not blind to the fact that my body is aging and am aware that it is inevitable. It keeps me mindful of the importance of savoring every moment of my existence. I’m enjoying the onset of my “golden years” and hope to continue doing so for many more years to come. When death does come knocking, I accept the fact that I will be food for worms, or possibly ashes blown by the wind. Cremation does seem to be a little more ecofriendly with the world being somewhat saturated with humans. I visualize my “eternity” as the sharing of my personal life lessons or experiences for the potential enrichment of others. I’m particularly hopeful of having a positive influence on my children, other family members and my many friends met along the way. I cannot think of a better eternity!

Chuck

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