Most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself. Martyn Lloyd Jones
Case in point – this week, there was a world premiere of a crowd-pleasing documentary about competitive players, aged 80+ battling it at the World Table Tennis Championships in Inner Mongolia. The movie is called PING PONG and it profiles eight veteran players from four continents, with 703 years between them. The film interweaves a competition story with intimate and candid portraits that explore the hope, regret and immediacy of growing old.
Terry Donovan, age 84 is quoted in the movie – I don’t want to grow old and sit in a chair and watch television and just die.” Here is a man who is diagnosed with cancer and warned that death is imminent, yet rallies to play a tense match that comes down to the wire. He’s doing some healthy self talk, don’t you think?
Reading his story inspires me – it makes me ask questions about my aging experience. What will it be like? Correct that statement – what IS it like now? What am I telling myself these days?
The director of PING PONG movie makes a profound observation.
One of the things I’ve learned over the last three years spending time with them is they don’t think of themselves as old. Their age doesn’t come into play with how they define themselves. It’s about attitude. Hugh Hartford
Charles Swindoll says, “The longer I life, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it.” I too, am convinced that my attitude has a whole lot to do with what I tell myself. Most days, I have to consciously make attitude adjustments…sometimes big adjustments…sometimes minor ones. The point is that a good attitude doesn’t always come naturally but listening to “untruth” does. So, I battle that reality with healthy self talk.
The truth is that my body is indeed wasting away – my physical body wasn’t made to last forever. I don’t need to be obsessed with looking young. I want to age graciously but live powerfully. The world tells me that the key to healthy aging is keeping my body and mind busy – exercise regularly, challenge myself with puzzles, sudokus, and crosswords. I say, “Yuck” to that – surely there is more to look forward to in the years ahead than this world’s definition and acceptance of the concept of retirement.
The scriptures tell me to renew my mind with truth and hold unswervingly to the hope we profess for He who promised is faithful. (Hebrews 10.23) That sounds active to me – there’s nothing passive about living out my days well. I want my life to count… to love and to be loved…to know Him and make Him known to others.
One lives well when one tells the truth to oneself.
Having declared that, I might just brush off the dusty ping pong paddle – I’ve always loved the sport.
So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. 2 Corinthians 4.16 NIV