I’ve Decided to Live 120 Years, and that decision made itself the moment I read the title of Ilchi Lee’s book. Longevity seems to be something that is creeping up on us unawares; I’m convinced that most people have no idea how long we’re really going to live, and we’ll find ourselves with fifteen or more extra years. What are we going to do with all that time? How are we going to prepare ourselves, emotionally, financially, physically, mentally?
Lee is a Taoist master, so there is a little bit of woo-woo in this book. Mostly, though, it’s a very practical look at aging from the perspective of a man in his sixties. We think of “65” as the magical year of old age because of a bureaucratic decision made in 19th Century Germany. Lee includes a poignant quote from a 95-year-old man who says he regrets wasting the thirty years of his retirement between 65 and 95. The man plans to study a foreign language so that he won’t reach his 105th birthday feeling that he’s wasted the previous ten years.
We look at that idea of the 105th birthday and smirk, thinking: Good luck with that one, old-timer! Then we read about Robert Marchand, who set a new world record in cycling at age 105 and raced as recently as February 2018, at 106.
I often ask myself, if a centenarian can do this, why can’t I? I’ll be 43 in July. There will come a day when I feel that 43 was young, oh so very young. I want to impress Old Me with how hard I’ve tried.
I know that Young Me had some really weird ideas about aging. Young Me thought that after I turned 30, I’d be “too old” to travel. Young Me never thought that I’d backpacking across Iceland and Spain after that age, much less that I’d run a marathon at age 39 or study kickboxing at 42. I feel physically younger now than I did at 20, and I have to assume that at 60, I’ll feel younger than I can imagine today. I want to make the best use of my time so I don’t look back wistfully, in regret and self-blame that I burned through so many years doing nothing.
Lee’s attitude is inspiring. He has a lot to say about letting go of the past, connecting with others and playing an active role in the community, staying fit, and not defining oneself as a frail, elderly person. His example of the older lady who gave away her recliner and her TV really lit me up! I’m going to do two things after reading I’ve Decided to Live 120 Years. I’m going to give my copy to my parents, and then I’m going to try to do wall push-ups like Lee does. He’s older than my dad, so if he can do it, why can’t I?
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I've been working with chronic disorganization, squalor, and hoarding for over 20 years. I'm also a marathon runner who was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and thyroid disease 17 years ago.