I follow a usually upbeat, optimistic Facebook group which came down with a thump last week. Under the heading, “Things I’ve noticed about aging post 70,” the writer, a Buddhist teacher, listed all problems he had discovered in what he apparently took to be “old age”: glitchy memory, lack of strength and coordination, no more traveling: “Get it done in your 60s. Your 70s will be occupied by ‘Where did I put my pants?’” he wrote. To me, he sounded like an old man already, 90 instead of 70.

The comments mostly followed his doom-and-gloom outlook. “At 61, my memory is already not what it used to be. Physical strength and stamina… not even close;” “Failing proprioception.!” “…the day after turning 70 the ground is…harder, more wobbly … and slippery…;” and [quoting from The Crown] “There came a moment, around the time I turned 70, when it dawned on me I was no longer a participant (in life), rather a spectator….”

From my POV, worrying about skin cancer or sketchy memory or failing stamina as we age just adds anxiety (a killer in itself) to one’s problems. Instead of worrying (and kvetching to anyone who will listen to one’s litany of complaints), how about doing something about it? For example, responding to these three issues: (1) I see a dermatologist regularly; (2) My wife and I make daily to-do lists, I use Siri or Alexa to remind me about appointments, and I carry a notepad and pencil whenever I go out; (3) Of course “We are not now that strength which in old days/Moved earth and heaven,” (yay Tennyson!), but, like Ulysses, it’s possible to compensate: Push-ups, walking up stairs instead of taking the escalator, biking instead of driving, kayaking on the Bay, hiking…

Having a target of 10,000 steps per day is ridiculous — what’s so special about 10,000? Except it works!

Look, I don’t want to come off as, I’ve got it all together. I’m hopelessly pessimistic about the state of the nation and of the planet. My libido’s doing what it does to most men my age. Hair’s rapidly disappearing. I bleed easily. Lasiked eyes. Wanna hear about my back? The usual, in other words. But, according to Louisa, I’m annoyingly optimistic. So, for what it’s worth, at a couple of months shy of 80, here are some tricks that have helped me:

  • We dumped our TV. I mostly avoid getting caught up in national and international news (on which I can have minimal influence) and focus on local issues that I may be able to affect. Again, stress kills.
  • My best friend in Humboldt is half my age. I make a point of hanging with younger people (who don’t give a shit about my ongoing or impending infirmities).
  • I walk at least five miles a day (since I no longer run, seeing too many hip, knee and ankle problems in my peers as a result of impact injuries). Also, if I’m in a grumpy mood, getting out and moving always helps.
  • I avoid meat, although I can’t prove if this helps health; nutritionists will be arguing about the pros and cons of animal protein forever. (“Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” — Michael Pollan)
  • I make myself get up early to take advantage of post-sleep dawn energy — and of 5am Starbucks coffee.
  • I take advantage of many of the offerings found on the internet ( — a joy to someone who used to have to go to the library to read an article from Encyclopedia Britannica). For instance, I pay for YouTube Premium so I can download talks by my favorite scientists, historians, musicologists and the like to listen to on my walks.
  • The year after we moved to Eureka, I tossed 10,000 slides, and I still purge regularly. We aren’t minimalists, but we do try to stay conscious of stuff. I think of excess possessions as a third family member whom we really don’t get on with and try to avoid. “Excess” is, mostly, stuff I haven’t used or appreciated for the last 12 months.

Most important of all: I take a nap every day after lunch.