Boomer writer Mike Petrie, who lives in Southern California, embodies the demographic of BoomerCafé’s readers: baby boomers with active lifestyles. But he wonders, why do some boomers act like they’re so much older?
In your fifties, maybe even your sixties, and feeling too old to do things you used to do? Oh come on people! Get real. For several years now when paddling my board out to go surfing, I’ve been noticing fewer and fewer guys my age out there on the waves with me. Hey, not that I mind all that much . . . fewer surfers means more waves all to myself. But there’s also noticeably fewer fellow boomer bike riders and joggers too. What gives?
The proverbial straw that broke this camel’s back was when I called a buddy -– age 58 -– to go sailing one sunny day and he told me, “Dude, I’d love to but I just don’t have the energy to be grinding winches, trimming sails, and all that rot.” This is a guy who used to absolutely live for being out on the ocean with a stiff breeze in his face. Is old age taking over the boomer generation? It shouldn’t be. Because when you think about it, we are not really all that old.
One only need look to an even older generation to discover that life does not need to slow down just because we hit a certain age. Some examples:
An article in the March 2011 Texas Bar Journal features 67-year-old attorney Larry Macon, who did not run his first 26.2 mile marathon until he was 55. The following year he ran two marathons. Each year he added more marathons and in the year 2009, at the age of 65, he finished an amazing 94 marathons in a single year! A busy lawyer with no plans to retire anytime soon, Macon actually took a conference call on his cell phone while running the Boston Marathon.
Closer to home, my mother-in-law, in her late 70s, regularly rides with her bike club, doing 50- and 100-mile road-bike trips and plays tennis several times a week. My 80-year-old uncle races Laser sailboats. Recently he won a second-place trophy against competitors 30 or more years younger.
Speaking of older sailors, I wrote an article in SAIL Magazine entitled Still Sailing After All These Years. It’s about 84-year-old Johnny Garau, who regularly surfed until well into his 70s and lives today on his 27-foot sailboat. Johnny can often be seen out on the ocean, boat heeling, wind in his gray hair, and a broad smile on his weathered face. In spite of his age, he retains a very youthful presence, and talking to him is like talking with a 40-year-old.
But, even Johnny is a mere youngster when compared to Lou Batori of Michigan, who at the age of 100 spends his winters as a Nastar competitive snow skier. In summer, when winter snow is gone, Lou goes on daily 20-mile bike rides up the same steep hills that he skis down in winter. When he’s not skiing or bike riding, Lou likes to travel around the country on his motorcycle. Go Lou!
Listen … these folks are ALL older than the oldest of Baby Boomers. They are still active, healthy, and vibrant. The key is to make sure Father Time doesn’t get the best of you. Nobody can guarantee that living actively will cause you to live longer … but your life will surely be a lot more fun and you’ll definitely feel younger and healthier. The time for slowing down is many years from now, once you really ARE old … not now.
Happily, not all boomers are slowing down. Among my circle of boomer friends-– most in mid-50s to early 60s –-one is a pilot who enjoys bicycle racing, kayaking, and raising his 5-year-old twin daughters; another works 60-plus hours a week as a lawyer, yet finds time to climb mountains, scuba dive, and play a weekly game of tennis; a female friend sky dives, plays tennis, and bikes; another races sailboats competitively, when not practicing medicine. I’m still doing all the things I’ve always done: working full-time, surfing, sailing, playing tennis, mountain biking, running 10Ks … not to mention still being in the process of raising my two young children.
The plan is to be MORE like my mother-in-law, my uncle, or Johnny Garau, or Larry Macon, or Lou Batori. Check back with me in about 25 or 30 years to see how my plan is working out . . . hopefully you’ll find me jogging along the beach or paddling out into the surf.