The secret to staying young
What you can wine up doing
Here's the thing I've begun to increasingly notice: folks who keep themselves busy, on the go, and fully engaged with their lives tend to stay a lot younger both spiritually and physically. My mother-in-law Betty and her partner Frank, both in their '80s, are prime examples of this. This year alone, they've been to Italy, France, UK, and on a cruise in the Aegean sea, and that was for the first quarter of 2016! Since then, they've also travelled to Rio for the Olympics, and are now in Italy and France, partly for work and partly for pleasure. Ditto my godfather Graham Inns, who is on the cusp of celebrating his eighth decade milestone on this planet. He leaves for a five-week holiday this Saturday, and when not globetrotting, is the patron of a wine-bottling club that he founded in 1966.
But let's make no mistake, these octogenarians are by no means dilettantes. They've lived productive lives (Graham was the director of tourism for South Australia for many decades) and continue to do so, but it's their continuing passion and appetite for living life to the fullest which I find most entrancing and inspiring.
Founding a club that regularly undertakes to purchase 600 litres of wine from wine growers and then transporting said barrels to an appointed venue and bottling the wine isn't quite the same as a weekly tai chi gathering in the park with your closest mates. It requires resourcefulness, creative thinking, and most of all an immense capacity to keep things going—and interesting!—for half a century. Looking through the album of wine labels that have graced the multitudinous bottles they have, well, bottled over the years, it's evident that this is a club peopled by members who have a rapacious appetite for life, and perhaps, ultimately, that is what matters most.
During these bottling gatherings, members are divided into groups, some to siphon the wine from barrel to bottle, some to top up the wine to a precise point just below the cap, while yet others cap the bottles and stick the labels on. More than just engaging in a hobby that is unusual and entertaining, it's the perfect opportunity for old friends to catch up and shoot the breeze while preparing the wine they will eventually partake in with loved ones. What could be better than that?
In Malaysia, organising copious quantities of wine in barrels for such a club might not be financially or logistically feasible, but I think the message in this is to challenge ourselves and not be confounded by—or confined to—the boundaries of convention. Get a group of like-minded friends together and start a jam making club (that you could then sell and donate the proceeds to charity), or corral buddies with an appetite for physical activity and task yourselves with preparing hot meals for the aged and homeless.
Because, believe me, the minute you allow yourself the luxury of feeling your advancing years, whatever they may be, and start to point out body aches real or imagined, and your unsuitability for a certain sport, is the moment you may as well lie down and wait for death. Your mind and body are either your greatest assets or your worst enemy. Whether you choose to keep both happily on the boil or succumb to a sedentary life will decide whether you wind up like Betty, Frank and Graham, or as a person from whom joie de vivre has crept away silently in the night, never to return. I for one know which camp I'll be hanging out with.