Saturday, February 8, 2014


In the book of Genesis, Jacob had a dream about the angels of God ascending and descending on a ladder toward Heaven.  Aside from the many Christian interpretations, I shall add my own secular notions of what this dream could mean.  Jacob’s dream of angels on the ladder rungs could simply be an allusion to the ups and downs of our experiences in life, the continually changing affairs in our lives, be they business or otherwise (pun intended).

The JACOB’S LADDER I am referring to in this blog is the moving, angled, climbing machine, that is a direct reference to Jacob’s biblical stairway dream to HEAVEN.  The JACOB’S LADDER found in fitness facilities packs such a challenge that it ought to be dubbed the stairway to HELL.  This calorie-busting cardio piece of equipment is reported to be, not surprisingly so, a favorite among Army Rangers and Navy Seals.

Neal Pire, an exercise physiologist with the American College of Sports Medicine and president of INSPIRE TRAINING SYSTEMS, says that in fitness centers, "The tougher the machine, the more seldom you see it  … I haven’t seen many seniors hop on [Jacob's Ladder]."

I am a senior, and I hop on it a lot.

I can speak for seniors.  Yes, it is painful to let go our smooth skin and the attention that comes with having a youthful appearance.  Yes, it is painful to have our eye sight diminish, our metabolism slow, and our muscles sag.  Yes, it is painful to get aches and pains and having to let go of physical strength.  And yes, this is the usual melancholia of being old, chronologically speaking. 

However, chronological age does need not always to be misery.  This Adonis busting misery is true only for those whose CHRONOLOGICAL AGE directly matches their REAL AGE (which is SOCIALLY-DETERMINED).  

FACT:  For only a very few, statistically speaking, does REAL AGE appear to be much younger than CHRONOLOGICAL AGE.    

And this fact poses the question: Other than a number, what value does our chronological age provide for us?  For certain it does not provide the aged truth. 

I see the truth (and answer) to this question as being quite simple.  Our real age is determined, generally, by our behaviors.  Real age is also determined by how we feel about our age and the expectations we assign to our age as being the most important.  B. F. Skinner said that if you want to be old, simply act like you are old.  Letting people open doors for you, letting others offer you seating, and letting others listen to you whine are just a few examples of this.

FACT:  The average age for Americans retiring today is 61 years.

FACT:  Many baby boomers, including me, are rethinking old notions (pun intended) and are planning to work well beyond age 61.  (Personally, I plan to never retire, for I’m not sure what I’d be retiring from.  Would it be counseling, or writing or busking? These are not just my working pleasures -- these are my life pleasures!

Life is uncertain.  Life is finite.  Life is evanescent. To live is to suffer.  Once we realize this, we can begin to treat our time with more kindness.  We can begin to take the time to listen and look at each moment, to be mindful of all moments.  Our lifetime is precious.  The way of Zen is to savor life and savor the moments offered.

No matter your chronological age, there is still time to set your priorities.  The majority of us lead plebeian lives.  We are all the Kapellmeisters of our own songs.  Over our lifetime we choose to conduct ourselves to sing long or to sink early.

Just because the majority of us are acephalous and thoughtless for significant stretches of our lives, there is still time to have a greater sense of life participation and a greater sense of happiness. No matter our chronological age or our real age, there is still time to drink tea, light a candle, and to relate with the people we love.

Appreciate people as they are, for each offers a certain unique flavor and sweetness.  Doing thus, is really (in both a selfish and selfless way) taking care of ourselves, while offering satisfying certain cravings and sensualities unto others.



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