Category Archives: Aging

Thursday Special: A Mud Run

This is not an Adult post, nor is it rated “X”

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A mud run? Who wants to get dirty in the mud?

I want to make this post a Thursday Special initiated by Paula, because it is a totally new AND special experience for me…even as a spectator.

On this beautiful day in early Fall, my friends invited me to join them for a road trip to Buffalo, NY. My assignment was to be their photographer when they participated in a mud run. We drove almost three hours from Hamilton Ontario to New York State. The event took place in Elegant Raceway Park.

Pink was the dominant colour at this event. Although it was not a fundraiser for cancer, survivors were offered complimentary registration, hence making it a popular occasion for survivors and their families and friends to have some fun. I was impressed by the beautiful team T-shirts and the colourful knee socks and tights around me.

Some participants wore tutus.

The run was a five-kilometre route with obstacles along the way–climbing up a rope fence, wading and crawling in mud pools, and sliding into a mud tub–just to get dirty!

Some people rolled and swam in the mud pool, while others tried to stay as clean as possible using different strategies, but it was all relative, for they still got dirty anyway. Most people seemed to be enjoying themselves even when they walked away dripping and caked in mud.  So did my friends!

The organizers offered some basic facilities for rinsing off the dirt and for changing. My friends felt comfortable enough to head out for lunch afterwards, knowing that they would have a thorough scrubbing when we returned to Canada.

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I am so proud of my friends. We are in the same age group and they have taken on the challenge to get dirty in this obstacle run. I should be up to it stamina-wise, but I prefer to stay clean and enjoy the experience vicariously. We do what we can and prefer, and I think this experience fits beautifully into the philosophy of my blog–Aging with Peace of Mind.

(Here is the where Paula talks about her conceptualization of this wonderful Thursday Special non-challenge “challenge”. I love this avenue to express ourselves.)

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Aging Gracefully: The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

I do not miss a movie if Judi Dench is in it. I am also very fond of British humour in movies. These two ingredients combined brought me to see The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. I sat there laughing and thinking, and I left the cinema feeling quite content.

The story line is plain simple. It follows seven British seniors who travelled to India at the same time (yes, a coincidence indeed) and stayed in the same hotel which turned out to have past the time of its former glory.The reasons of their travel to this destination were not entirely clear; while one of them may have a more plausible reason (retired housekeeper Muriel-Maggie Smith), another a hidden agenda (retired high court judge Graham-Tim Wilkinson), and yet the others were probably lured by the charm of a hotel for seniors in the advertisement they came across online.

Most of these senior came with a relatively adaptable mind and so soon after the initial disappointment or even shock that the hotel did not turn out to be what they had expected, they took it in stride and made the best of what the place had to offer. Evelyn (Judi Dench) found a job, Graham pursued relentlessly to find his long lost friend, Douglas (Bill NIghy) went out to soak up the local culture in spite of his wife’s (Jean–Penelope Wilton) reluctance, while Norman (Ronald Pickup) and Madge (Celia Imrie), both unattached, tried to look for a probably partner and excitement in life. Even Muriel, who appeared to be the most bigoted of all, mellowed and accepted the locals around her.

One message in the movie was, “You have failed only if you have not tried”. The only “failure” was Jean, so well-portrayed by Penelope Wilton. but she was gently let go to return home. She came across to be surprising magnanimous with her departing speech to Douglas.

The shared experience of these seniors had enabled them to change. They found new friendship, love and understanding, as well as a new page in their lives.

The acting was suberb. The creme de creme of British actors and actresses were in this movie. Even Dev Petal had matured since his Slump Dog days, but he did pale in the company of the rest of the seasoned cast. His character was there for an added dose of optimism. We heard from him repeatedly, “Everything will be all right in the end. If it is not all right, it is not the end yet.” Unfortunately, the inconsistency in Sonny’s character development made the role difficult to convince.

With or without Sonny’s sanguine outlook, this was still a feel good movie. Even seniors can change and continue to grow. I was particularly amused with Evelyn told her son to check her Blog. She must have learned a lot since this diffident woman telephoned the internet provider at the beginning of the movie asking about broadband and Wi-Fi.

The critic who believes that the lineup for this movie is only for the 65-year old set and this same audience will not line up fore the Avengers suffers hopelessly from a lack of appreciation for aging gracefully. What about vice versa? I think that people who stereotype something is for the senior and something is for the young only reveal their own narrow-mindedness. They are discriminating on the grounds of Age. I hope those critics who think that this movie is meant only for the elderly will come out of the closet of their negative expectations. We are all growing old one day; don’t be afraid to face it!

The movie was colourful and Jaipur was brought to life at daytime and at night. The story moved at a good pace, as it focused on the “here and now”, which promised hope for the future. I do not think I need to delve into the past of our senior heroes and heroines. They have taken control of their own lives. They have triumphed over that lost generation who think that they are entitled to everything that they have not worked for. Our senior protagonists deserve our applaud.

How old are you?

I was flipping channels on the television, and landed on CNN’s Piers Morgan Tonight when Morgan was interviewing Dr. Oz. The conversation went something like this (not verbatim quotation):

Morgan: How old are you?/Oz: I’m 52./Morgan: Oh, you look 45 to me.

Then the conversation went on to Dr. Oz talking about his 7-minute routine every morning doing stretches and push ups to stay young and healthy…

I have given seminars on aging in Hong Kong and in Canada. I usually begin by asking the audience to answer a few questions: 1. How old are you? (give your chronological age) 2. How old do you think you look? 3.  How old you do feel like ? 4. How old do you wish you were now? My audience have ranged from university students to middle-aged adults, to seniors. Invariably they are surprised that the answers to the four questions are not always the same. Which one matters the most then?

There is a fear of aging in most societies to day. Trying to stay fit and healthy as one ages is one thing, but going out of the way to get a young-looking face is another. Japanese author Haruki Murakami is also a long distance runner. He honestly reveals  in What I Talk About When I Talk About Running (2007) his struggle to come to terms with the reality that after he reaches a certain age, he can no longer improve on his time no matter how hard he trains. The marathons take on a new meaning for him, after Acceptance. He continues to race, to try the best he can, to feel good about himself and sheer race time no longer matters.

It is not how old you are or how old your appearance suggests that matters.  Even the body (referring to stamina as well) cannot stay young forever. It is how you feel inside–and you are the only agent who can control that.  You already own the fountain of youth as long as you have an eagerness to learn, a curiosity for adventure, and an urge to expand your horizon. Above all, the sense of well-being and balance between your inner and outer self is ageless.