Eighty (and plus) years young folks with oomph!
By Michael Thomas Masters
Sometimes, even in my fifties, I can become drained and even lethargic.
Many factors tend to influence our energy levels and outlooks, which also can affect ones health, activities and peace of mind.
Therefore, it is amazing, and sometimes humbling, for me to witness those people further on in years than myself, even eighties plus, who continually exhibit incredible energy, stamina and inspiring oomph.
Take for example, the infectious energy, sharp mind and spirit of ninety-four years young actor, Ernest Borgnine (Marty and McHale’s Navy). The talented award-winning actor continues to make optimistic appearances on Turner Classic Movies, at numerous film festivals and at the 2010 Screen Actors Guild Awards. Borgnine earned an Emmy Award nomination at age ninety-two for his work on the series ER. What a sharp and interesting guy.
The incomparable Betty White (The Mary Tyler Moore Show and Golden Girls), nearly ninety years young, appears to have boundless energy and oomph to spare, presently co-starring on the TV hit series, Hot in Cleveland, which could garner Ms. White yet another Emmy Award this coming September 2011.
Stage, screen, television, recording and work out fitness phenomenon, Angela Lansbury (Gaslight, The Picture of Dorian Gray and Murder, She Wrote), is vital and active at age eighty-five. In the last five years alone, Ms. Lansbury appeared in three Broadway plays, receiving Tony nominations for all three and winning one for Blithe Spirit in 2009. Appearing live on stage certainly requires stamina and energy, at any age!
Two very active and vital actors from the 1960s memorable TV hit series, Star Trek, Leonard Nimoy and William Shatner, are going strong and maintain busy acting and lecturing careers, both at age eighty. They even occasionally pop up in TV commercials.
The dynamic and intelligent former U.S. President, Jimmy Carter, now eighty-six, works tirelessly and year-round for several humanitarian causes, as well as continues to admirably represent our country when he is called upon.
However, such vitality, energy and oomph do not just occur with well-known media celebrities.
Closer to home, I greatly admire my mother, Justina (Tina) Masters, who at eighty-one years young, continues to live a vital, active and oomph-filled life. Having raised five children (along with my father, her husband of sixty years, Robert Masters), while living, and working in eastern, mid-western and western U.S. states, Tina continues to be an avid book reader (especially mysteries). Mom has also traveled extensively throughout the United States.
Mom cross-stitches incredibly beautiful work (which I am the proud owner of ten), and also attends book club meetings, completes daily crossword puzzles and intricate jigsaw puzzles, visits church, and enjoys to shop. Additionally, she ardently keeps up on world issues and politics, as well as cooks, maintains a household, bakes, while always offering a helping hand to loved-ones and friends, and, well, you get the picture!
Being of sound mind and healthy body is essential at any point in our lives.
However, it becomes even more crucial as we all age. Keeping a positive attitude (as much as possible), which may sound simple and yet frequently can be quite hard, is crucial. Fill your mind with positive thoughts, as often as you can. Try your best to minimize the amount of negative people and negative events in your daily life. Learn something new or take up a new hobby, which is critical for all ages.
Look around in your personal world for inspiring people (of all ages) and not merely just media celebrities.
It is not always easy, but we each should strive to be our own on-going inspirations of oomph, for ourselves as well as for others in our lives.
Michael Thomas Masters can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
I just read in the New York Times an article called “Turn 70, Act Your Grandchild’s Age,” which plays into the notion that some of us expect 70 year olds to act like you should be 20 not 70. This article makes me think of the work we do here at oomphTV. I hope we don’t give the false impression that you must act like a 20 year old to have oomph!
Accepting your age and your limitations, while still doing what you want (and being realistic about what you can do) is part of the message of oomphTV. And a big part of having oomph! is simply enjoying and celebrating life, no matter what you can and can’t do. After all, life is short and let’s simply enjoy what we can while we are here.
Recently Ringo Starr celebrated his 70th birthday by playing at the Radio City Music Hall and saying his new hero is BB King, who still jams in his 80s. They will be followed by Bob Dylan (“May you stay forever young”) and Paul Simon (“How terribly strange to be 70”) who still both perform and write music.
Dr. Butler, a psychiatrist, died, at age 83, a few days before Ringo’s big bash. No one, his colleagues said, had done more to improve the image of aging in America. His work established that the old did not inevitably become senile, and that they could be productive, intellectually engaged, and active, sexually and otherwise. His life provided a good example: He worked until three days before his death from acute leukemia.
But as much as Dr. Butler would have cheered an aging Beatle onstage, his colleagues said he would have also cautioned against embracing the opposite stereotype, the idea that “aging successfully,” in his phrase, means that you have to be banging on drums in front of thousands or still be acting like you did at 22 or 42.
“The stories that we hear tend to pull us toward the extreme,” said Anne Basting, the director of the Center on Age and Community at the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee. “It’s either the stories of young-onset Alzheimer’s, or it’s the sky-diving grandmas. We don’t hear enough about the huge middle, which is the vast majority of folks.”
In the film and television business, the business I’m in, Clint Eastwood is still directing films at 80 and Betty White is now starring in a new sitcom at 88 (I worked with her on “Ugly Betty” and she was amazing) The pressure for 70 and 80 year olds is not to face mortality, but to kick up those slightly arthritic heels ever higher.
In the eighth decade, said Dr. Basting, is “now seen as an active time of life: you’re just past retirement, that’s your time to explore and play mentally.” But while many will be healthy, others will not. “There will be an increase in frailty and disability because people are living longer,” said S. Jay Olshansky, a demographer at the University of Illinois at Chicago who studies aging. For some people, an increased risk of stroke and Alzheimer’s “is going to be the price they pay for extended longevity,” he said.
The risk, gerontologists say, is that in celebrating the remarkable stories, we make those not playing Radio City, and certainly those suffering the diseases that often accompany old age, feel inadequate.
Thomas R. Cole, director of the McGovern Center for Health, Humanities and the Human Spirit at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston and the author of a cultural history of aging, said “We’re going to make it look like if you’re sick, it’s your own fault. If you’re not having orgasms or running marathons, there’s something wrong with you.
Here at oomphTV we don’t want to just portray “aging extremes,” but also inspirational people that fall somewhere in the middle. If we simply profiled extremes we would run into the possibility of alienating everyday people.
We did produce a story on Jack Kirk – The Dipsea Demon, the 94 year old runner. He could be considered one of those extremes. However, we also profiled Alice and Richard Matzkin. Both Alice and Richard Matzkin express themselves through their art, one by painting and the other by sculpting. They are not running any foot race, but clearly they have oomph!
In addition, we are currently in post-production on “The Green Buddha”, a wonderful story about my sister, Dana Dowell Windatt, and my own mother, Jeanne Dowell, that have started a new apparel business, based on gratitude. My mother has just turned 80 and was the original inspiration behind oomphtv.com She is not running a marathon or doing trapeze, but she is still doing what she wants to do at 80 years of age.
We are looking for different kinds of stories about people over 40 and sometimes way over 40 that have oomph! However, we do want to include stories of people that do have limitations. If you know of any, please write to us.
I hope we have found the right balance. Please feel free to write us and let us know what your thoughts are. We want to continue to inspire and inform, but not alienate our audience.