It was four years ago this month that I was in the Atlanta airport awaiting an 11:30 p.m. flight to Chattanooga. There was another delay, so I wandered down to a nearby bookstore and found a delightful little book titled, "Gee Whiz, I'm Old!"
Even a cursory look through the book made me realize it had many nuggets of truth and wisdom.
As I reached for my credit card to buy it, I remembered there was not one ounce of room in my carry-on for even a skinny book, and that one was plump. I made a mental note to buy a copy in Chattanooga, but I've never been able to find a copy. It's as if it never existed, and I know it wasn't a figment of my imagination.
The contents of that little book have been front and center in my mind since the senior pastor of my church, Dr. Dwight Kilbourne, invited me to speak in the 10:45 a.m. sanctuary service Sunday, the eve of my 90th birthday. Suddenly, two things occurred to me -- gee whiz, I'm old, and gee whiz, Sunday will be here soon.
Today, with that speaking engagement now tomorrow, I've remembered some of the truths in that book:
1. Since 1900, the life span in North America has increased by 30 years. The question posed in the book was, "What will you do with the extra gift of time to make a difference for good in the world?"
2. Life is not a dress rehearsal. It's the real deal, and we have only one chance at it. So, we need to:
A. Take care of our bodies -- eat nutritionally, exercise regularly; learn to manage emotions before they manage us.
I love the story of the woman who dreaded her husband's retirement. She said he'd never done anything requiring physical exertion like mowing the lawn or washing windows. She was convinced he would sit in an easy chair and expect her to bring him food. He surprised her by joining a class at the YMCA, and more surprisingly, the class was wrestling.
Two weeks into the class, he signed up for the tournament. On the night of the match, two men brought him in bloody and beaten. Before she could say a word, he said, "This is not the worst of it. I won tonight. I have to fight tomorrow night." We must respect our limitations.
B. Continue to grow mentally. Remember that we don't grow old; we get old because we don't grow. Some people are old at 20, and some people are ageless. My observation is the latter group continues to learn, study, grow.
C. Anchor your life in a value system. For me, this is the Christian faith. Develop spiritual maturity.
As I survey the decades of my life, I remember the words of Dag Hammarskjold in a journal entry published after his death: "For all that has been -- thanks! For all that will be -- Yes!"
Nell Mohney is a Christian author, motivational speaker and seminar leader. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.