November 2012 - Birthdays are Reason to Celebrate
Somebody once asked Mark Twain how he felt about getting older. "Not bad," he replied, "when you consider the alternative."
Because I was born a couple of hours before Halloween, I've enjoyed celebrating both. This year Carolisa Pomerantz and I returned to the Pacific Mariners Yacht Club Halloween party, held the weekend before my birthday. Carolisa became a standout Phyllis Diller complete with cigarette holder, and raucous laugh while I played her never before seen husband, Fang. We had a great time dancing to live music and sharing a table with good friends. Much to our surprise we were two of the winners in the costume contest. It wasn't until the next day we learned that the comedian with the big, outgoing personality was the same size as Carolisa.
It's sometimes harder to get enthusiastic about birthdays as we age, but despite the physical decline that I fight against, I truly appreciate each year I commemorate. On the day I actually turned 58 Carolisa took me for a memorable celebration fueled by Maine lobsters and oysters on the half shell, a rare treat. I am very grateful for the love and support we share.
While producing the anti-aging documentary "Reverse Aging Now," I visited Okinawa, the island home of the world's longest lived people. I went fully expecting that diet and exercise would be the keys to their longevity, but I learned how much an active social life was important too. One group of seniors generously allowed me to video tape their game of gate ball, a form of croquet, followed by what could only be described as an impromptu party with flowing sake and much laughter.
In a subsequent interview with Dr. Bradley Willcox of Harvard Medical School, co-author of The Okinawa Program, he credited the emotionally resiliency of the Okinawans to the deep bonds forged there with friends and family, as well as a deep seated spirituality. We shouldn't have to go it alone as we age. Isolation makes the journey much harder. Let's treasure our loved ones. They are the gold to prize as our hair turns silver.