Is whiskey the secret to a longer life? A 90-year-old neighbor once told me his: eating a stalk of celery every day. The folks at Dannon ran a great ad campaign back in the 1970s about people in Soviet Georgia who lived well into their second century on a diet rich in yogurt. But I have another theory.
I remember sitting back in my chair, gobsmacked, when I first read about this study. I mean, if just watering a fern and deciding between My Dinner with Andre and World War Z will give you a new lease on life when you’re 90, what does that suggest about the way we ought to be leading our lives now – and in the years ahead?
This study is one of the many reasons Rich and I moved to Seville. Because when you live abroad, the first thing you give up is your ability to go on automatic pilot. Even the simplest daily activities require plenty of ingenuity and fortitude.
At the time, we were frustrated and annoyed with ourselves, but after we got over our dudgeon, we had a good laugh, and we’ve been telling the story for years. Unlike those of our friends whose retirement goal is a life of untrammeled ease, I like facing up to the challenges of living abroad. It adds a lot of zest to the daily round. When a simple visit to the hardware store becomes a test of skill and wit, I know that even if I walk away without a screwdriver, at least I am acquiring the tools I need to keep my brain — and my sense of humor — ever more finely honed.
So now you know why I’ve decided to return soon – and often – to that California pub, arriving at 5:00 on the dot so I can say, “Make mine a Grandma Cooper. With a stick of celery and a yogurt chaser.” Cheers.