Share, Listen, Think

The Art of Aging

In Humor, Life in Society on January 24, 2012 at 3:40 pm
Binka and Betty, Hong Kong-RB

Photo by Roger Brown
Binka and Betty
Hong Kong, China

By Heila Rogers

In the 1920s, Tokyo high school student Hideichi Oshiro read a haiku poem he never forgot … it described coming across the subtle beauty of a wildflower during a walk in the mountains.

“I wanted to make this kind of haiku in my life,” he said at age 100.

“Nothing else, just one haiku.”

(Nichi Bei, 12/22/11)

I would like to suggest, how about make one haiku OF our life?

Catch Sun

Photo by Roger Brown
Catch Sun
China

How about the art of living involves humor.

People are dying (!) to know the secret to longevity. Scientists poke and prod centenarians and test their blood, analyze their daily habits, and report on their diet and exercise habits. Conclusions vary. Some drink, some don’t. Some eat meat, some don’t.

I have a file with articles interviewing older people. Usually when they reach a milestone birthday like 90 or 100, they get their picture in the paper. Something I love about them and always notice is their humor.

One 90-something lady was asked if she’d lived her whole life in the town where she was born and raised, and still lived. She answered, “Well yes … so far!”

Robin Le Breton, People's Park - Chengdu-RB

Photo by Roger Brown
Robin Le Breton
People’s Park, Chengdu, China

Jeanne Calment of France released a CD at the age of 121 which included a rap song. That’s not a typo. Her age was 121 years old. No, she didn’t in fact take herself too seriously.

Hear it here.

Read the centenarians’ quotes below and look for the embedded humor. It’s not the cracking jokes kind of humor, it’s more of a deep, abiding perspective on life, that looks for and is aware of “the funny.” An outlook that appreciates human foibles and is interested in laughing.

Christian Mortensen, originally of Denmark:

On his 115th birthday Mr. Mortensen said, ”Friends, a good cigar, drinking lots of good water, no alcohol, staying positive and lots of singing will keep you alive for a long time.”   (NYT)

Tell me there’s not humor in there – “lots of singing” is not a medical prescription.

Maria Gomes Valentim of Brazil:

“She says she has lived long because she has always taken care of her own life – and not the life of others,” granddaughter Jane Ribeiro Moraes, 63, told a local newspaper.   (The Huffington Post)

You know she has some stories though!

Besse Cooper of Georgia, United States:

Sidney Cooper said his mother was told she is the oldest person in the world …

[S]he said,“I am? I should get a box of chocolates – assorted.”   (Walton Tribune)

What a funny answer!

Ann Nixon Cooper of Georgia:

Until the age of 103 the lively centenarian still danced the electric slide.

Enough said.

Bucky Williams of the U.S. – former member of the Negro Baseball League:

It was an era before Jackie Robinson, when the color line prevented these players – some of the best players in the world – from playing in the National and American leagues. The black players couldn’t play on the same fields, use the same water fountains or eat in the same restaurants. Bucky used to tell the story of the time he and a fellow player were approached by female fans but didn’t speak to the women for fear of being lynched. But Bucky remembers the good times too. “You didn’t make any money. Some of us might have made $10 or $15. But we had what you call fun.”

(www.100yearsproject.org)

We had what you call fun. I wish that quote could be stenciled onto every sports arena and stadium in the country.

I honestly don’t know if scientists have studied this about humor and longevity, but it’s verifiable.

Laughter is good medicine.

A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength. Proverbs 17.22

Young Monks @ Play

Photo by Roger Brown
Young Monk’s at Play
China

A quote from Ushi Okushima, a daughter of one of the semi-famous centenarians on Okinawa (not a baby herself, she’s 74):

She says her 100-year-old mother still treats her the way she did nearly seven decades ago.

“She criticizes my hairstyle,” she sighs. “She still talks to me like I’m a small kid.”   (globalaging.org)

Look for it! It’s there in every interview.

Finally, Run Run Shaw, who ran a large entertainment business addresses the joy of making people laugh:

‘In my business, its all a guessing game. You’ve got to go along with it, watch audience reactions and then guess. I like sitting among the audience, especially in Hong Kong where people make comments continuously. Entertainment is a kind of service to the people. In Hong Kong, people work all the time and have nowhere to go. So keeping them amused and entertained is a challenge.’
    (www.shaw.sg)

Again, to be clear, this humor is not sarcasm, it’s not laughter at others’ expense, it’s not crude. Instead it’s joy and gladness. It’s love really. An acknowledgment of beauty and wonder — and pinpointing that in everyday activities.

See it in their eyes.

Photo by Heila Rogers
Eggs by Daniel Rogers

Addition 8/1/12: 100 year-old Idaho woman on Jay Leno show

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