Thinking Makes It So

A healthy life begins in your head.

Don't Get Old, Get Wise

Listen to the sagely Satchel Paige if you want to live a long and healthy life

If you ask me how old I am my first unfiltered response would be 27. Which would make me 6 years older than my 21-year-old twins. Which would mean I got married at the age of 2. So I'm guessing I'm not really 27 anymore.

And yet, 27 is how I feel, though probably not how I look. Twenty seven is my inside age. My DL (driver's license) age is really none of my business. And I'd like to keep it that way.

Why do I feel 27? Good question, complicated answer. Twenty seven to me is still young but not so much as to feel or appear foolish. Twenty seven is how old I was, the first time around, when I had my first play produced, lived alone in a two-bedroom apartment with two entrances, two bathrooms, and a terrace. This was in LA, however, so it doesn't really count. Why? Because the only events that count for me anymore are the ones that either have happened, are happening, or will happen in New York.

My husband and I lived just outside of New York City for 20 years, watching our kids grow up. He did that rat race thing, fighting traffic twice a day, five times a week, while I was the designated shlepper. Taking kids to and from school/playdates/music lessons/after school sports/etc. Writing occasionally, cooking constantly, having a very good life as a wife.

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But I knew once the kids graduated and moved on to college, it would be time for my spouse and me to down size. And down size we did. We each lost 50 pounds, then we sold our four-bedroom house and rented a two bedroom apartment. We've never been happier. Like they used to say, back in the day, small, or maybe smaller, is beautiful.

It's easy for me to be 27 now that I live in the city again. In the suburbs I could see for me, the trend was downward, a slow roll toward old. I didn't want to head in that direction. Many of my friends still live in suburbia and frankly they look mahvelous. But that's their way, not mine. One man, or woman's nirvana is another one's nightmare. Boo.

How do you stay 27? You move to Manhattan, that's how. Oh sure you can also move to Brooklyn but then you might go overboard. In Brooklyn I'm actually 23. And that's just a tad too young for me.

For me Manhattan is also more than a city, more even than a state of mind. Manhattan is a friend of mine. Manhattan is a true companion. Manhattan and me, we go places together. We take walks, we go to museums. We don't go to New Jersey. No offense, little garden state.

A recent study conducted in Japan showed that at least Japanese men live longer in cities than the countryside. (see japantoday.com)

Realage.com annually lists the top 25 best cities in the U.S. for staying young, the rationale being that cities have better access to healthcare, to more events that stimulate both mind and body, and often a better sense of community than even their country counterparts.

But I totally get that not everyone wants to live in Manhattan and that's a good thing. We are an island; we don't have a lot of extra space. But there is another way I know to stay forever 27. If you're interested. Don't look back. That's what Satchel Paige said (because something might be gaining on you) and he was still pitching in the major leagues at age 60. Bet he was 27 too. Most days that is.

Looking back will trip you up with regrets and shoulda coulda woulda thoughts that have absolutely no value. I'm all about the wow of now (you can take the girl out of L.A., but you can't make her talk like a rational being.)

Staying young has nothing to do with Botox or lypo and everything to do with attitudes like gratitude and humor and grace. Also forgiveness and love.

So, to recap, stay young by living in the present moment, forever 27. And don't look in the mirror too much, except for that magic mirror called a loved one's face. For as Satchel Paige would say how old would you be if you didn't know how old you are?

Madora Kibbe is a Christian Science practitioner and writer who lives in New York.

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