Sunday, August 16, 2009

Life by the Numbers

Jaguar SS hood ornament. Photograph by Trevor P.
I was prowling one of my favorite web sites this morning and a comment caught my eye: "Age is but a number." I guess it depends on the number and whose it is. One of the best friends I've ever had was a guy who was in his 80s. When we met he was 78, looked 68, acted 48, and I had to push it, most days, to keep up with him.

He'd been a writer, psychologist, and musician.
He drove his Camry like a Jaguar while listening to jazz with the volume way up (no, he wasn't hard of hearing, he just liked the beat). And yes, he flirted, and far more successfully than me.

We wrote a book together that will be in print early next year. About mind-body relationships and the nature of illness, it was his last and it's my first. When he passed away last year, he was getting ready to embark on a second career consulting in pain management.

The most important thing I learned from him was life shouldn't be lived by the numbers. They really don't matter nearly as much as some seem to think they do. It's more important what you do, how you treat other people, and whether you're enjoying yourself. He certainly did, enjoy himself that is, and he treated everyone like they had value. He taught me it's better to outlive your body than to outlive your usefulness. Or your ambition. Or your dreams.


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