People like to look me in the face and stare at me, saying “you don’t look like you’re 76,” as if there is something wrong. ………Continued from Part A…..
…….Another preventive I think bears mentioning. I like a general attitude of, “avoid surgeons like the plague, unless absolutely necessary.” Sorry, my many surgeon friends! I was once even a surgeon in training, and my father was a surgeon for years, so I feel that I have a pretty good instinctive feel for the field. Have you ever visited a carpentry shop? It’s really something like that; yes, the carpenter is extremely skilled, but watch all the other things that are happening apart from his beautiful artistic cutting. You quickly realize there are lots of things that could go wrong, and all the tools being used are really intimidating, for a reason. Plus, there is this funny thing called anesthesia that comes with the bargain. Even though anesthesia/ surgical accidents are rare today, and numbers often quoted could be something like only one in 10,000, yet I know of enough people who are that one, that it should give you cause for caution.
My father had a sudden total change of brain perspective immediately after his relatively simple prostate cancer surgery, and there is little question that the anesthesia altered his 73 year old brain in some way that could not be reversed. My wife bled and kept oozing a huge four pints of blood during a relatively straightforward operation for cancer of the ovary, a dozen years ago. Her brother died of bleeding after tonsillectomy as a teenager. And the list goes on and on. And so yes, while it is one in 10,000 or whatever, just remember it also means that things do happen, even in the best of hands, and in the best of hospitals. And you may not actually meet the best of the best anyway! Check out the doctors again and again, and make sure you have a sensible internist or general doctor making the decision first, and weigh carefully his/ her recommendation about the real need for surgery, before you are subject to the scalpel. Guess who is the best at the scalpel, and guess who is the best at weighing pros and cons? The skill sets are not identical, and you need the best of the best, when your body is going to be cut open under anesthesia!
And a stable God fearing, loving marriage does wonders to mental health and stability, which undoubtedly contributes to a healthy physical life, even according to many secular researchers. An important complementary perspective also must be my deep involvement with the faith community. Mutual encouragement, comfort and serving are all key elements in a healthy mindset, which clearly affects our lives. In my view, also, meaningful work with great goals and vision provides deep seated inspiration for life: which stimulates enthusiasm, and I’m sure even a youthful spirit.
Indeed, I worked for decades specifically with young people, who are more natural, candid and spontaneous; and who probably laugh more also! Thus, having young people for “coffee with uncle Reggie” is really a great way to stay young, I am guessing. Every story I tell during coffeetime is also a “rejuvenation” mechanism, refreshing those great fun memories that I have been privileged to experience. Nowadays, actually I am mostly doing “virtual coffeetimes,” via videoconferencing, with young folk, but the effect is similar. And, my story telling skills improve with each telling, to make the story more interesting, concise and creative, which I am sure livens the brain also. You don’t want to be a bore, so by watching the response I sense how my story is going (smile). My wife often accuses me of changing the story perspective, structure or content, every time, especially if the story involves her, like the famous “making an impression” story, see Reggietales.org. To which my response is simply, it is getting better, is it not? The facts haven’t changed, but the perspective has grown. That is why this category of story-telling is called “creative non-fiction.”
的确，我在过去数十年来和投入于许多青年人相关的工作。他们比较自然，率直，单纯，也笑得比较多！因此，我想在《与曾叔叔闲聊》“Coffee with Uncle Reggie”里和青年人谈话也是一个常驻青春的好办法。每一咖啡回忆故事都好像让我返老还童，重新记起那些极有趣的记忆以及我有幸能经历过的经验。现在虽然我大多是通过视频与青年人谈话，但是那种效果是差不多的。我说故事是越说越进步。我能把故事说得更有趣，更简洁，更有创意。我相信这也让我的头脑更有活力。我不想做一个枯燥乏味的人，所以我常从观察听故事的人的反应里来知道我说的故事好不好听（微笑）。我内人常常指责我经常变换故事的角度，叙事结构，以及内容 – 特别是有关她的故事 – 例如那著名的“留下印象”故事（详情请看Reggietales.org）。我对她的回应很简单。那个故事不是越来越好吗？故事里的事实并没有变，不过故事的观点更加意味深长了。这正是为什么这种说故事的方式叫做“创作散文”(Creative non-fiction)。
Hey, one confession, I do look into the mirror (it’s biblical) and it is quite easy actually to see if I’m getting fat. Whatever criteria I want to use, there are many physical changes to remind me vividly. You know what I mean: I just don’t deny it. One of my favorites is the cutely termed “love handles,” and if I see them, ha, I will immediately cut back on consumption (usually it’s always the carbs, reduce them by half immediately). Just doing that quickly nips it in the you know where. Or if I see my “double chin” coming up, no, it’s not my genes, it really is what I am trying to deny. And don’t think, O, someday I’ll do something about it; because someday just never seems to come.
哦，对了，我会看镜子（有圣经根据的!）所以我很清楚地知道我有没有变胖。无可否认的，我们身体外观能很清楚地告诉我们我们的健康指标。所谓的“游泳圈（love handles）就是一个我很喜欢的例子。哈，我如果看见它我马上就知道我必须减少我的饮食分量（通常，这意味着立刻减半食用碳水化合物）。这样就可以很快的把赘肉除掉。又或者我看见我长出了“双下巴”，我不能自欺欺人的说双下巴是因为我家的基因。我不能想说等明天再来对付我的双下巴，因为明日复明日， 明日何其多。
Finally, there is a strange statement that Christ made, that the Sabbath (something like our current Sunday) is made for man and not man for the Sabbath, meaning the time to stop one day in 7 days, is a great reminder to all mankind that we should take a break each week, to refresh ourselves and to reconnect with our Creator, especially if we have forgotten him during the week. The break is a time to indeed learn to pray, to learn humility and to be encouraged by the Creator himself, to complement the necessary but sometimes tedious work the rest of the week. Countries that tried to deviate from this 7-day magic rest have all had to go back to this rhythm to keep their people from going crazy. Take a break, recover your energies. This I did “religiously” for all my very busy life, though often during the Sunday break, I was busier with church related work than in midweek, but I tend to think that even the change of pace and change of focus was effectively a mechanism for a real break and recharge mechanism. I certainly have been blessed and encouraged each Sabbath, regardless of what I was actually doing the rest of the week.
So, in a sense I have given away the secret(s) of a long happy life. I’m sure that all the blessings are ultimately derived from a God who really loves us, and wants to bless us. If we continue to serve him, I’m sure he especially fans within us our youthful flame, for whatever period of life we are in, even if it is a short one. Of course, I really do not think that the duration of life is ultimately that critical, but how it is lived is important, and what happens next is actually crucial. Are you ready for that next phase?