Posted by: drwbortz | May 21, 2010

What is Your Age Gauge?

In my book Dare to be 100, published 14 years ago, I proposed a very simple test that first assesses what your body does, and secondly, why.

I suggested that there are three primary physical tasks which a human organism pursues.  It moves, it thinks, and it makes love.  It is true, of course, that the body does other things.  It eats, breaths, and excretes, but these functions pretty much act as support systems to the basic three above.

In my Dare book I wrote that of the first task, movement.  No one can dispute the fundamental role of movement that nature has assigned our bodies.  Most of our energy is focused on getting our mass moved from one place to another.  Our muscles and bones are part of the drive train that enables our body to move.  Meanwhile, our circulatory, nervous, and digestive systems also serve mobility. Movement is a central theme in all of nature, and it is no less so with us, although we seem to be failing in this job, due to our relatively recent cultural laziness.

The second task is cognition. We honor ourselves with the label “sapiens”.  It is our distinction.  Other creatures outperform us in virtually all other categories of life, but intelligence is our crowning glory.  The body’s mechanics ensure that under all sorts of challenge — hot, cold, infection, starvation, extreme exertion — the brain is protected first, then the other organs get what’s left over.

Third, sex.  Many biologists would claim reproduction is the only purpose for all of nature, that each of us is only a temporary organization of flesh or plant stuff, the duty of which is to transmit genetic information down through time.  I identify sex in a much less-restrictive manner, proposing that it transcends the mere reproductive element. To me, our sexuality is one of the major life-quality issues, not confined at all to the early phases of life.  Famous gerontologist Alex Comfort made perhaps his greatest contribution by emphasizing the Joy of Sex as we grow older.  Sex is renewal, engagement, self-esteem, staying awake in life, sense preserving and extending.  It provides a richness that lasts a lifetime. Comfort wrote “Aging abolishes neither the need nor the capacity for sexual experiences.”

Having validated the fact that movement, thought, and sensual engagement represent the core activities of a vital life, the Age Gauge proceeds.  You accumulate one point a day when you walk a mile, one point when you read a book, and one point when you make love.  One point per category is the maximum allotment.  If you walk two miles, or read two books, or make love twice, one point per day is all you get for each.  Each category has equivalents: swimming or biking or square dancing, et cetera count as well.  Similarly, writing a letter, or playing a musical instrument, doing your computer work, or doing crossword puzzles all contribute a point .

Equivalents for making love are harder to propose, but they invariably involve putting your sensual self in action.  These three activities provide a potential 3-point day and a 21-point week.  It is important to recognize that these points are not age sensitive.  The Age Gauge applies if you are 30 or 80.  As life proceeds, one might find the weekly total points sagging, although they shouldn’t.  If you focus on the three S’s of successful aging — strong, smart, and sexy —the point total evolves naturally.

Such accounting represents the physical self.  But all of us immediately recognize that the physical self without meaning is a hollow venture. The biology of being human is necessary but insufficient.  Individually, we must provide the reason for living on our own.  No one can define our personal meaning of life for us.  When I search this challenge for myself I hearken back to Grandpa Bortz’s exhortation, “Make yourself necessary.”  I’m sure when I was 8 or 9 years old this really meant, “Scat, don’t bother me.”  But now, at age 80 the advisory is much more portentous.

Albert Einstein’s observation applies, “From the standpoint of daily life, there is one thing we do know that man is here for the sake of other men — above all,  for those upon whose smile and well-being our own happiness depends and also for the countless unknown souls with whose fate we are concerned by a bond of sympathy. Many times a day I realize how my own outer and inner life is built upon the labors of my fellow man, both living and dead, and how earnestly I must exert myself in order to give in return as much as I have received.”

To accommodate the necessity of having a vital meaning in life, the Age Gauge provides an extra two points per day for being necessary.  These two points combined with the other three make potential 5-point days and 35-point weeks.  As you survey your weekly point totals, the Age Gauge provides a useful prediction of your chance of living to your potential 100-year lifespan.

So here’s a guide to how to interpret your Age Gauge results, on a points-per-week basis, to determine your chances of living to be 100 years old.  Numbers are in Age-Gauge points.

The Age Gauge

Points Per Week

Chance of Living to 100

Rate of Aging

% Likelihood of 100
0 – 5 You are dead now. Gone. 0
6 – 12 Lucky to make another 10. You’re sinking fast. 1
13 – 19 Slim.  70 is a more likely goal. Modest down drift. 5
20 – 25 You have a chance. Average. 20
26 – 30 A long, full life is likely. Gains offset loses. 60
31 – 34 Your daily daring predicts success. Slight. 80
35 A sure bet. You size all your moments. Minimal. 100

.

Whatever your point total and your current age, never forget Bortz’s Law: “It is never too late to start but it is always too soon to stop”.

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