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Live long and prosper

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.The Associated Press
Monday, June 05, 2017 10:37 am

Thank you, Mr. Spock, that's good advice. Of course, as they say, easier said than done.

I usually ignore those interviews with the extremely aged in which they are asked to reveal the secrets of their long lives. The answers are usually highly idiosyncratic, based on whatever lifelong indulgence is uppermost in the geezers' minds at the time: Drink gin every day. Never touch Brussels Sprouts. Never borrow money from anybody whose nickname is Mad Dog or Icepick. They don't really know why they have lived so long any more than I know why Rachel Ray's perkiness drives me batcrap crazy. Some things just are.

But "Sunday Morning on CBS" had a segment yesterday called "Golden Boys" that featured interviews with nonagenarian funnymen Dick Van Dyke, Carl Reiner and Norman Lear. Their thoughts on living a long life are well worth considering, because it seems to me they are also worthwhile guidelines for living a good life, however long it might me. I've always considered laughter to be one of the most important things in my life, and most people who can make me laugh have my utmost respect and admiration. 

In the order of appearance on the show:

1. Attitude. That was from Van Dyke, who defined the best one as "a lack of stress. And we all have stress in our businesses. But I think, well, most of us are kind of easy-going. We're not uptight people. I think [stress] eats you up, really, your body, and your mind." Worrying about bad stuff almost always does more harm than the bad stuff every could.

2. Love. Marry the right woman, said Reiner, which Van Dyke expanded to say, "You have to have someone to love"  and Lear qualified by adding, "I think it helps, too, to love yourself. That's the hardest one." I agree with it being the hardest one, but "loving yourself" seems a little self-indulgent to me. I would say "liking yourself" and "accepting yourself" (little Taoism sneaking in there), which makes it easier to like and accept someone else, which is the gateway to love.

3. Work. "Do something that you love to do," advises Van Dyke. "You know, don't be living a life of, what is it, quiet desperation — people working at jobs that they hate to go to. And that to me ruins a person. Find something you like to do, and please, God, do it!" If I could do anything in the world, I would shoot my mouth off all the time. They are actually willing to pay me for that. G.H. Hardy, in "A Mathematician's Apology," says that when looking your life's work, A) Choose the one thing you are better at than anything else you do and, B) Spend the rest of your life getting as good at it as you can. Best career advice I think I've ever read.

4. Engagement. Just keep looking ahead. "I think there are two little words we don't think enough about: "over, and next," said Lear. "When something is over, it's over. We're onto next. I mean, this is the moment." "If you have something to get up for, you'll get up," Reiner said. "You won't die in the middle of the night if you have something in the morning you gotta do!" I know this is generalizing based on too few specific examples, but so many people I've known have looked forward to a long and happy retirement only to die within six months of leaving work. I think that without something to focus on, they stopped paying attention to living and let death sort of sneak up on them.

Maybe none of that is what the experts would call profound advice and it certainly isn't anything startlingly new. But it was nice food for thought on a lazy spring morning.

I believe most of our lifespan is genetic. The things we do or don't do, the attitudes we have or don't have, might add or subtract five years to our timelines, but that's about all. We are programmed to live to a certain age,  and that's it, more or less (unless we do something monumentally stupid that shortens it a great deal).

Is it worth worrying about those few years either way? A little maybe, but not a great deal. In fact I might would be the surest way to subtract five years instead of adding them.

ELSEWHERE IN THE NEWS

It's nice when the social justice warriors go after each other, so we can take a needed break: Modern veganism apparently is “oppressive” and even “super trans-exclusionary.” Says a sjw blog:  “I've seen a lot of adverts and signs over the years declaring that being vegan is feminist, and that the animal industry is built on the exploitation of the 'female reproductive system' — thereby making it an issue that all women should resonate with,” Joy explains. “The problem is that defining what it means to be female as having a uterus, ovaries, vagina, and mammary glands completely erases trans women, trans men, non-binary folks, and anyone whose body doesn't conform to that super essentialized (and incorrect) definition.”

It's discrimination only when YOU do it, not when WE do it and it's for the right reasons: Asians get the Ivy League's Jewish treatment.

I'm with Ross Douthat, neither hot nor cold on the climate: "Lukewarmers accept that the earth is warming and that our civilization's ample CO2 emissions are a major cause. They doubt, however, that climate change represents a crisis unique among the varied challenges we face, or that the global regulatory schemes advanced to deal with it will work as advertised. And they raise an eyebrow at the contrast between the apocalyptic, absolutist rhetoric with which these schemes are regularly defended and their actual details, which seem mostly designed to enable the globe's statesmen to greenwash the pursuit of economic and political self-interest."

Yes, it's a real debate: When will robots deserve human rights? And you scoffed when we cried because the mean Federation scientist wanted to take Data apart to see what made him tick.

I can sort of see their point: Apple piles on features, and users say, "Enough!" But I'm still at the stage with my Android smartphone that I still find apps that are useful and/or a lot of fun. The latest is Google Translate, which lets users pick any two languages (from scores of them) and speak back and forth, with the app translating each language into the other in both audible and text forms. Really close to that famous universal translator (speaking of "Star Trek.") 

Is this finally it, a areason to regret having voted for Donald Trump? Hillary Clinton KNOWS aliens exist and would have outed the truth as president.

What could possibly go wrong? Secret Service relaxes marijuana rules to swell ranks. Apparently they're planning to forgive "youthful indiscretions," taking into consideration the time between the potential agents' last use and their application to the agency. Seems risky to me. Marijuana use shows a "willing to break the rules" mindset I'm not sure ever goes away.

Back in the days when I thrilled at the exploits of Rocky and Bullwinkle taking on the dastardly Boris and Natasha, I knew we could count on some of our animal friends to stand up for America: Military veteran in Texas upset at the theft of small flags he put out for decoration until he discovers that a patriotic squirrel had been taking them to build her nest with.

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