Episode 414(159) Changing Our Ways
Hi podcast listeners. This is Del Lowery with Retirement Talk.
Sometimes we wish we could change. Change our life. Change our habits. But change just doesn't come easy for some of us. Mac Magyver, my neighbor was one of those. Change was impossible. Roy Ingham, a friend of mine offers us a different example. There stories illustrate the power of habits and any attempt to change them.
Mac Magyver was retired for twenty-five years. The last few years of his life his doctor kept telling him to do this or that - have this medical test or that. Mac refused. He like to sit on the back porch in the sun and listen to the Seattle Mariners baseball games. If there was no game he would listen to talk radio. He smoked cigars and set still. He wouldn't even walk across the road to look at the ocean and sunset. He died sitting in that chair, in the sun, listening to a ball game. He was 85. Not a bad way to go.
We tend to develop daily routines. I suppose its because we feel the routine is worthwhile. Aristotle knew that and advised us to take care with the routines that we establish. We are habitual creatures, he said. He claimed that we are good people because we have developed good habits. I believe that. I know that I'm a creature of habit.
Most of us think about what we want to do with our life and then develop habits that fulfill those thoughts. I suppose not all of us do that. Some of us probably just fall into one thing or another. We don't sit down and consider just exactly what we want to do with our lives. Then we wake up someday and realize that changes should have been made.
Over five years ago I received a letter from Roy Ingham, an old friend, who was rearranging his life. He wrote his life story - so to speak - and came to some conclusions about how he should live. He decided to change his habits. Here's what he planed for the future:
1. Listen to music daily for at least one half- hour. It will not count if the music is being listened to as background music. He cannot busy himself with other things. "I will sit and give my full attention to the music", he says.
2. Read poetry for one half hour each day.
3. Beat a frame drum, similar to ones used by First Nations people in Canada for 30 minutes. "It has the effect of putting my mind at rest", he says.
4. Work at my pottery for at least 6 hours per week. Roy has been throwing pots for over 20 years. This will be a continuation of a habit he long ago established.
5. Commune with nature for 30 minutes each day by taking walks on the beach or in the woods.
6. Take a one hour nap each day. ("At 84, this is be coming a necessity" he says, "not just a pleasurable activity". ) It sounds like he is already practicing this one.
7. Exercise about 4 hours per week- 3 of these swimming. Roy has been doing this one for over 20 years. Again it is a habit that he seems happy with. He wants to continue it.
8. In my relationships with the world, both human and non-human, I will attempt to love, honor , and respect the Other. I will not seek ways to control any of the others to whom I relate.
9. Practice yoga or Tai Chi- 2 hours each week.
10. Change the content of my reading from the present ratio of 90% non-fiction to 90% fiction, mainly novels and poetry.
He ends by saying, "I have already begun to enact some of them and plan to become engaged fully in the proposed program within the next month, or about the time of my 85th birthday".
Now for an update. Roy just celebrated his 90th birthday. I just called and asked how did he do in his effort to change his ways at age 85.
As for listening to music 1 hour each day. His response: "Fair. 30%. There are days I don't listen to any music. But when I DO LISTEN IT IS NEVER BACKGROUND."
And beating a drum one half hour each day has not done any better: "the drum is on the wall but I haven't been doing it. 5%"
And for reading poetry every day: "10%. I HAVE GONE FOR WEEKS WITHOUT POETRY"
And for doing pottery six hours each week: "Yes 100%. the pottery is going great."
As for Communing with nature for 30 minutes each day by taking walks on the beach or in the woods. "3%. I HAVEN'T HAD A WALK IN THREE MONTHS. NOW IN JUNE, JULY AND AUGUST I WALKED 3DAYS EACH WEEK when I am in Washington State living in the woods. But here in Sarasota I don't walk."
And as for taking a one hour nap each day he says:
"110%. I NEVER MISS THE NAP."
As for exercise: "100% SWIM THREE DAYS A WEEK FOR FORTY MINUTES. KEEPS MY BODY IN PRETTY GOOD WORKING ORDER. SOME WEEKS I DO 30 TO 40 MINUTES OF STRENGTH EXERCISES."
9. In his relationships with the world, both human and non-human, He would attempt to love, honor , and respect the Other.
And his response today to that goal is: "100%. It is getting to the point where I do it without effort."
And his goal to practice yoga or Tai Chi- 2 hours each week.
"0% NEVER HAPPENED. I DO STRETCH EXERCISE FOUR DAYS A WEEK."
And the goal to change the content of his reading from the 90% non-fiction to 90% fiction, mainly novels and poetry.
"60 TO 70% SUCCESS. I READ A LOT NOVELS. NON - FICTION."
He summed up his effort to change habits with:
"ROUTINE OF EVERYDAY LIFE WEIGHS AGAINST ACCOMPLISHING ALL OF THESE CHANGES. IT IS HARD TO BREAK HABITS. AND I FOUND SOMETHING ELSE THAT TOOK MUCH OF MY TIME. I SPENT A LOT OF TIME WRITING MY PLAY. I'VE BEEN WORKING ON IT EIGHT OR TEN YEARS. AND IT IS REALLY ALMOST FINISHED. I'M VERY HAPPY WITH IT. "
One thing I liked about his responses to my questions was how he fired back the answers. He never hesitated - not for a second. One thing is for sure: his mind is as good as ever.
I think Roy did pretty good deciding to change habits. It is difficult at any age. At age 85 he made some major changes. His effort illustrates one thing for sure. You are never too old to change.
This is Retirement Talk with something to think about.
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