As a keen observer of the joys and challenges experienced in retired life and aging in general, I find myself fascinated by people’s lifestyle choices. Although it wouldn’t be completely accurate to stereotype, some fairly clear generalizations can be made.

One of these generalizations relates to one’s attitude as he or she ages. It’s an inescapable fact that throughout the aging process, everyone endures physical changes, health issues, loss of friends and family, declining resources, etc. What I find curious is the difference in attitude maintained by people as they go through this experience. Some are able to maintain a positive and upbeat attitude toward their everyday life while others appear to be stoic, bored, and unhappy. I realize these are the extremes on a continuum, but I do believe as people age they tend to fall into the more extreme positions on the scale of “positiveness.”

Another generalization I’ve observed relates to an individual’s sense of curiosity or sense of adventure. For some, it seems routine is the order of the day, while others seem to have cultivated an ongoing fascination with life and look forward to each new day and experience with that mindset. These folks tend to look forward more often than back. They also seem to bring a certain excitement into their lives despite the aging process.

I realize these observations don’t really break any new ground and I also try to not to be judgmental about anyone’s lifestyle choices. Intuitively, however, I do believe staying positive and curious throughout this journey is much more rewarding and fulfilling.

So, what is the reason for this serious and reflective topic? Well, as I prepare to usher in another year of my life, I’ve recently encountered a reminder of how fragile life can be. Let me explain.

Last week I drove my wife to an appointment in a nearby city. As we approached the location of her appointment, she suggested I simply drop her off and asked if I could pick up a couple of items at a store we had just passed on the other side of the street. Being a dutiful husband I said I’d be glad to do that for her. Needing to get turned around and head the other direction, I pulled into a middle turning lane. Approaching me in two lanes was a very fast group of cars. Suddenly, one of the cars decided to stop and pull into a parking lot. The car behind swerved to avoid that car, the car next to him swerved and was now coming straight at me. Only at the last moment did this giant SUV swerve back and avoid me by mere inches. I had already taken what I considered would be my last breath.

Shaken, I was able to get turned around and proceed to the parking lot of the requested store. As I got out, having avoided a tragic and mangled end, the air seemed fresher and the flowers in front of the store more fragrant. I think I smiled at and greeted every customer I encountered in the store. I joked with the young man at the checkout stand. Having dodged a bullet, life was sweet once again.

As I walked out of the store there was a bounce in my step. After taking about five steps a flash of light passed my head. It was too fast to comprehend. That was followed by an explosion just off to my side. I was hit with several pieces of something that felt like I had been sprayed with rocks. I simply stood in shock. What just happened? A young store worker who was outside at the time rushed up and asked, “What was that?” I simply stared and said, “I don’t know.” On the ground were several chunks of something along with many smaller chunks that had flown in all directions. I told the young man that something had flown past me and we both looked up at the same time. He then said something a bit profane and pointed to the very top of the building where there was a large white area. It turns out the side of the building is made up of very large tiles. One of those tiles at the very top had come loose and sailed past my head before exploding on the ground.

Twice within ten minutes I had dodged a horrible fate. I hope I can remain positive and curious, although I might start wearing a helmet.

(Notice the blank space where the tile fell off the building and the person just coming out of the door I excited and turned left)



John Parker, PhD is an educator, author, speaker, father, grandfather, and travel adventurer. You can contact John personally at