Frailty concerns me more than the grim reaper. With a swing of his scythe, it’s over. Nothing more to worry about. It’s quite the opposite with frailty, when our aging physiological frame must be buttressed by canes, walkers and scooters. Lately, I’ve been giving some thought on how to manage the onset of old age.

Yesterday, I went surfing, installed new rails on my deck, cut down six palm trees, and watched the Vikings get shellacked by the Bears. Minus the game, it was a wonderfully productive Sunday. I dread the day when my body can no longer perform such physically demanding activities. This is not my unique concern, but as an active middle-aged man, it’s more than a blip on my mental radar.

Long in the Tooth

As a horse ages, its teeth are said to grow longer. The first citation of the expression ‘long in the tooth’ is thought to originate with William Makepeace Thackeray in his novel, The History of Henry Esmond. We humans bestow this phrase on one another, not just our equine friends. When I’m shuffling about in my later years, I won’t take exception to someone referring to me as long in the tooth.

Retirement planning often centers on financial security and access to quality health care. Fair enough, but something is sorely missing in this advising model. What about having a real and attainable passion in our senior years? Passion ignites intrinsic motivation and propels us to peak performance. We shouldn’t lose that simply because we’re older. As I reckon with the notion of being long in the tooth, a diversified passion portfolio factors into my retirement plans. My physical strength and agility will surly wane. Concurrently, my writing will escalate. There are parallels between crafting a compelling sentence and surfing challenging waves. Both require considerable practice and refinement, made easier by a sense of passion.

Aging is an opportunity to pursue new passions, perhaps ones we shelved in our younger years. Fret not what you can no longer pursue. Unearth the passion within.

Unearth the passion within.

Waiʻanae Range, Oahu

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