Moving toward the ‘young-old’ as we age

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Moving toward the ‘young-old’ as we age

The hollow horn plays wasted words, proves to warn that he not busy being born is busy dying—Bob Dylan, American musician, singer, songwriter and author, in It’s all right, Ma, I’m Only Bleeding.

Long-distance marathon swimming rules and regulations are a total mystery to this columnist.  Therefore, I have no idea whether the skepticism now flying around the internet about Diana Nyad’s swim fromCubais in any way credible.  Even if the complaints are all true, they actually have no bearing on today’s column.

The subject is Diana Nyad herself, member of the International Swimming Hall of Fame, and the U. S. National Women’s Sports Hall of Fame,  and others like her.  At 64, Ms. Nyad is a senior by anyone’s reckoning.  Whatever the arguments may be, the fact is that she did swim 110 miles fromCubatoFloridaand made her life-long dream come true.

This conversation about seniors and what they are actually capable of is a bright-colored thread that runs through all the Senior Moments columns.  In the beginning of the column, back in 2001, there was a lot of discussion about award-winning author and clinical psychologist Dr.  Mary Pipher, with emphasis on her wonderful book, Another Country:  Navigating the emotional Terrain of Our Elders.   Ms. Pipher was the first writer to make me aware of the “old-old” and the “young-old.”

One of this column’s continuing goals has been to encourage the reader and the author to move toward the “young-old” as we age.

Swimmer Nyad has nothing on Kay D’Arcy as Agent 88, a kung fu master who hides weapons in her grannyish bun.  Agent 88, is billed as a “comic book-style cinematic romp full of martial arts action, amazing special effects and unforgettable characters.” The series will soon be available online and has an introductory video on  Ten years ago at age 69,  D’Arcy acted against the wishes of her family and leftEngland to try her luck inHollywood.  She has practiced tai chi and Filipino stick fighting for years and her prowess is demonstrated in the movies.

“I welcome this departure from playing a decrepit, haggard, dying old woman,” D’Arcy told the Los Angeles Times.  “I am not always dying in bed or having a stroke or being dressed for the mortuary.  I  had to demolish four boys in one scene, and it was lovely just looking down and seeing all these beautiful young men lying at my feet,” she said.

Director and creator Digger T. Mesch got the idea for Agent 88 after watching You Tube videos of the retired English woman, Ann Timson, 71, putting a stop to a jewelry store robbery by clobbering the bad guys with her handbag.  They ran from the scene.  Ms. Timson is another example of a “young-old” individual.  Mesch explained that the Agent 88 character is an 88 year old British woman on the verge of Alzheimer ’s disease who may appear to be a decrepit old lady, but in reality she is a highly skilled warrior assassin.

How about Bob Dylan?  He turned age 72 last May, having been born Robert Allen Zimmerman in May of 1941  He began his career as a folk rock singer and songwriter in the early 1960s with songs that chronicled social issues like war and civil rights.  Dylan has grown and changed throughout his career.  Remember, he was loudly booed at the Newport Folk Festival the year he performed electrically for the first time.  Before that his folk music was all unplugged.  (The fact that many of us hate change keeps cropping up, doesn’t it?).

The point is that next month, Dylan begins his 2013 European Tour.  Touring at age 71?  Yep.  He has new music, new album releases, and new shows.  Despite his age, he continues to reinvent himself.  He hasn’t enjoyed continual success, but rather the ups and downs that most people experience.  He was almost killed in a motor cycle accident early on and recovery took a long time.  He has, from time to time, been criticized vehemently about his new music, new song writing, new albums, etc.  Never the less, he was inducted into the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame by Bruce Springsteen.  Not bad.

It is a well-settled fact that studying the lives of our heroes in order to emulate them is a very good practice.  Ms. Nyad paraphrased Winston Churchill when she reached Miamishores:  “You must never, never give up on your dreams.”  The successful swim was her 5th try.  She has been chasing this dream for 35 years.

The British Agent 88, Kay D’Arcy , summed up her success up by saying to the Daily Mail online, “It’s Never too late to pursue your dreams.” (

And how does Bob Dylan feel about growing older?  Can we get a clue We can get a clue from his 2006 song, Spirit On the Water?  “You think I’ve over the hill?  Think I’m past my prime?  Let me see what you got.  We can have a whoppin’good time.”

Thanks for reading.  Stay well.  See you next week.

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