Celebrating Age | Ann Ranson | TEDxSMU

Translator: Emma Gon
Reviewer: Hadrien Meyer So, let’s go back in time. It’s the year 1910, there are dirt roads,
very few automobiles and Halley’s Comet
has just been discovered. J.R. Dumas is a merchant,
he owns the hardware store and the furniture store
in the then tiny Rockwall, Texas. He was only 56 years old, when the doctor told him
that he had some kind of a heart condition and that he should go home
and take it easy. And so he did. He walked home,
walked out on his front porch overlooking Wells College,
sat down in his rocking chair and basically didn’t get up
until the day he died, decades later. J. R. Dumas was
my great great grandfather. I never met him, but as you can guess, I heard this story my whole life. I still cannot imagine. I have so many thing I want to do. Like today, I hope to convince each of you that age should be celebrated, that it should not be feared and that there are things we can all do to help prevent us
from becoming victims of aging. Carl Jung said, “I’m not what happened to me,
I’m what I choose to become.” Dr. Christine Northrop said, “Yes, growing older is inevitable,
but aging, that’s optional.” Her book “Goddesses Never Age”
was one of many in the stacks of books I’ve read in the last year trying to learn everything I could about aging. And the great thing that I learned is that for the most part,
it’s all right here. Our views and our attitudes about aging are major indicators
of how we’ll actually age. In the book,
“Aging as a Spiritual Practice”, the author Lewis Richmond shares a study that reveals that people
with a positive attitude about aging live on average seven
and a half years longer. And that a good attitude about aging is more of an indicator of our longevity than low cholesterol,
low blood pressure or BMI. And when you love life
and try new things and you savor your life experiences, you are well on the way to living
a longer and more rewarding life. But I have friends
who aren’t so interested in living a really long time and I’ve always had this feeling
that I will live into my 90s and if I say something about it,
my friends would go, “Oh, no. I don’t want to live that long.” And yet, I have two dear friends
with mothers in their 90s. Both of them live alone. Jules still works one day a week and Ronnie played tennis
at least once a week, well into her 80s. I can assure you
that neither of these ladies are sitting at home
in their rocking chair waiting to die. Instead they’re showing us
what comes with age. That resilience we’ve met and mastered in so many of life challenges. We’re getting to know ourselves. Hopefully we like ourselves
a little bit better and we’re less concerned about
what other people think of us. We’re willing to let go
of who we used to be, to embrace who we are now. A couple of years ago,
I’ve snagged one of the last tickets to see Willie Nelson
perform at the Eisenman. Audience: Hurrah! Right on! (Laughter) He had just turned 80
and I wanted to see him at least one more time,
even though I’d seen him dozens of times in my radio days. As the concert played on,
he launched into another one of his classics
“Funny how time slips away.” In an instant, I slipped back in time. The Longhorn Ballroom. How many concerts did he play there? “Whiskey River”,
he owned a club by that name and he opens every concert with that song. And who can forget
those fabulous 4th of July picnics? As he played on and I really thought
about what was going on, I was struck by the contrast
in my own experience. On this particular night, I was sitting in the last row
of the balcony. Back in the day, the who I used to be, I would have been backstage or at the worst
on the first couple of rows. But I pondered those moments
in great appreciation and the tears began to fall. I wasn’t crying
because I wasn’t on the front row, I was crying with the deepest gratitude
for the terrific times I’ve had. Instead of holding onto that past, I appreciated it and then let it go. Knowing that I’m creating
new experiences everyday, just like so many others have started and accomplished great things,
well into their years. Benjamin Franklin at 70 years old became the oldest signer
of the Declaration of Independence. Golda Meir was 70 when she became
Prime Minister of Israel. And Grandma Moses, God love her, didn’t start painting
until she was 76 years old proving that there is hope for all of us. And I can go on and on,
telling you these great stories, but the point is this: age can be a great liberator, if you give yourself permission
to love and live the life that you’ve always wanted. That’s when the choice comes in. And if you want
to have one of those lives that is well lived until the end,
choose it. Make choices and do things, be things. I think it all starts with gratitude. I think that Ronnie, my friend
whose mother played tennis into her 80s, I think this is the secret
of Ronnie’s success. She is grateful every day, for everything. I think we have to be present, in this moment and appreciate it, right here, right now. And when we fear the future, we rob ourselves of the joy of right now. And then I think we need to be of service. We have heard
countless opportunities today to serve in the most amazing ways. Pick something that resonates with you and then be of service. And then what about yourself? Sometimes we can be really good
at serving other people, but what about your own needs? Have you ever wanted to sing or dance or maybe you’ve always wanted to write? Then do it. Don’t die with your story still in you. And if you’re a person
who likes to take risks and you want to have fun, but “they”, you know who they are, they say you shouldn’t,
you should be safe. Well, tell them that you’d rather
fall down having fun than be safe sitting in a rocker. Life is too short. And so we make
each of these choices everyday in the way that we’re going to live. If you’re one of those people who wants to fall down having fun or if you’re a child
who has elderly parents, give your parents permission
to have a rewarding and fulfilling life. Don’t let your well-intentioned fear prevent you from letting them fall down. Oliver Wendell Holmes says, “Men do no quit playing
because they grow old, men grow old because they quit playing.” So let’s celebrate life. Imagine the life that you want to live and then choose it. Be grateful, be present, be connected, love your life. Love life! Because then you will be rocking
your world, not your rocker. Thank you. (Applause)

About the author


  1. I'm doing pretty well on most of all of the choices for aging well as Ms. Ranson layed out here. The one area I still have a tough time accepting is the way age looks on me. What does that mean??

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