Friday, February 17, 2006

Life at 100!

Can you imagine living to 100 years of age? Evidently many cannot. A friend who does public speaking said that he often asks an adult audience, How many of you would like to live to your 100th birthday? He has been surprised to see that very few, if any, raise their hands. It would seem that the fear of failing health and a declining life style outweighs the hope for longevity. The reality is that some studies have revealed that as many as 15% of those living to be 100 are still living independently. Neenah Ellis spent years interviewing centenarians for a radio series on National Public Radio's Morning Edition in 2000 called "One Hundred Years of Stories." The book, If I Live to be 100 is the story of that life changing and life enhancing experience.
In it she interviews centenarain Harry Shapiro and his wife, Celia, at their home in Washington Heights. I found his words about life and death very thought provoking.

"I'd like another lifetime in the arts. I'd like to plead to the old man. Give me another chance. I still believe in God."
"Do you think about what will happen after you die?"
"I'll be around in some shape or manner. I may be a flash of light, a luminosity. Sometimes, when I watch television, a luminous something comes from my eyes, something comes out of me. I don't know what that is. A light will bulge out of my eyes. Maybe that's the soul, I don't know. We all have a soul, there's no doubt about it. Where He is, what He's made of, I don't know. He might be electricity, a force of nature. I know there is something that holds this mystery together. I pray before I start painting and while I'm working on it. That's why I want another lifetime." Then the author describes this beautiful scene. Sometimes in the afternoon Harry and Celia take a nap together, lie together in bed and listen to music, holding hands. Isn't that a beautiful image of contentment and peace.?
At the end of the story, Harry passes on this advice. "You know what I think prolongs life? Art and music. Beyond that, it is to have a heart full of love. That is the most important thing." If you are planning to make the century mark I don't think you can go wrong by adopting Harry's priorities. What do you think, are you going for 100 years? I think I'll give it a try.

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