Life begins at 120!

This week I received a wonderful brochure for citizens over 60 from the community where I live. It contained excellent invitations on how seniors can "pass their boredom". Yesterday I went to buy a ticket at the train station and the machine asked me if I was between 1 and 59 years old or already 60+ years old, because if you are already 60+ you can get a senior card. At these and many other places I have the feeling that it is conveyed that at 60 life is already over. Even at the last class reunion I ever attended (30 years after graduating from high school), the conversations were essentially only about how long you still had to work and when there would "finally be retirement" and you would be "free".

My goodness, I said to myself, how did these people live their lives away! Who would want to live like this, waiting for their 60th birthday to be "free at last"?!

In Germany, we are currently having the weird discussion about raising the retirement age to 67 or 72. If we look at nature, we would never think of saying this to a tree:

"I don't care how fit you are! We have established by law that you have reached retirement age and you will please stop flowering or producing fruit now, because you are no longer allowed to do so!"

Certainly, one can explain historically why it used to be important to protect people above a certain (pension) age. When discussing pensions, we always think only of chronological age. Yet we have three ages:

  • The chronological age is what is written in the passport.
  • There is a biological age, which indicates how old my body is and how well I have taken care of my "vehicle," and there is a
  • mental age, which tells how fit and alive my mind is.

Retirement age refers only to chronological age and is thus more of a roll of the dice than a truly biologically meaningful explanation: many researchers agree that humans are designed to live to be 120 to 150 years old.

Time magazine ran an issue last year with a cover featuring a portrait of a baby and the title "This child could live to be 142" to illustrate how far medicine has come in making people live to the age they really can. There are vintage cars that still participate in rallies. And there are vintage car drivers who drive those vintage cars. I posted earlier that I watched a mountain race where the oldest racer was 95 years old. Cars, if well cared for, can run almost forever. Yes, the 1920 model may not have GPS or a trip computer but it still works.

Udo Jürgens sang "at 66, that's when life begins." Johannes Heesters was still on stage at the age of 106. How old do you think he would have been if he had been told at 65 that he was no longer allowed to perform? Warren Buffet was well into his 80s and said, "If I wasn't allowed to do what I love to do, I don't think I'd live much longer or be alive." When he was 77, he learned Korean accounting law.

I have just turned 64, am just starting new business ideas, a new business and am having great fun creating something new. How terrible it would be if the legislator could prohibit me from doing this!

How open are we to learning new things? As open as we want to be, and that is when we value biological and mental age more highly than chronological age. There is no such thing as "being old" in that sense, there is only active participation in life or not. The possibility to ruin one's body or to take care of it and become fitter.

At what point do our lives really, really begin? When do we decide?

I ignore the chronological age, I don't care, it doesn't help me anyway to be invited to an anti-boredom senior event among the chronological 60-year-olds, because my biological and mental age doesn't fit to it at all. On the contrary, I am currently in the process of creating something new in life in a fresh and dynamic way and thinking in terms of "No Limits" to a degree that I was not able to do at all in my younger years. In this respect it gives me joy to be really further, more mature.

On a 60th birthday, someone was asked, "Would you like to be 20 years old again?" - "Yes!" he said. "But only with today's phone book!"

I wish you a wonderful, unlimited life and especially mental and biological youth!

Wolfgang Sonnenburg
winning for life

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