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He Said His Name Was John...


He said his name was John. I found that out after I purposely jumped in line and got on the same chair lift with him at Bogus Basin.

There was a prominent “90” near his ski pass. So of course I had to ask.

“Sir, you are not 90.”

“That’s right. I’m 91.”

I laughed.

“Are you here with your buddies?”

“My buddies are all dead.” He said .


“Yep, kids, grandkids, and great grandkids are here.”

“How long have you been doing this?”

“Since 1936. I was there that day in Sun Valley when the first chairlift in North America fired up. Me and my friends couldn’t believe that we did not have to walk up the hill anymore. We just couldn’t believe it. I was 18.”

“So by my math you have been skiing for 70+ years.”


This was probably one of the few times in life I have been speechless. We finished the ride up in silence and it only takes four minutes to get to the top. He skied away and so did I.

That four minutes has had a huge impact on my thinking since that lucky day several years ago.

John was choosing to live until he died. He was moving to the right.

Fading Away Spectrun

As we have discussed, ok, well I have discussed, ageing is inevitable and death certain. But what do we choose our days to look like? Will we choose depletion and decline or will we choose to drop over dead doing something fun, something meaningful, making a contribution, having an impact, investing in someone. And yes it is a choice. And no you don’t have to learn to ski or take bodily risks but you can choose to keep pushing.

John was. And he made an impact on me in less than four minutes.


That’s living.

How often in our office and practice do I hear the words of people who are giving up on participating, on contributing, on living, in favor of decline? Answer: Often enough to write a blog post about it.

I fully understand that our ability to function can decrease over time, and for most of us does decline. The common error, however, with this decline is to pine for the days when we could do whatever we wanted and maybe no longer can. We focus on a sense of loss. From what I can tell this is a huge mistake and a bad choice.

So what habit am I asking you to embrace?

I am asking you to re-frame your CAN’T to a CAN.

What CAN you still do? Who could you invest in? What level of play, what kinda game you still got? Choose to make it happen.

Can’t ski anymore? Snowshoe. Take your kids up the hill. Participate at whatever level you can. Key word CAN.

Golfing too painful? Practice putting anyway! Drive the cart for your pals. Focus on CAN!

Continue to engage, to invest, to participate at whatever level and wherever you CAN.

Get the stinking word CAN’T out of your head and mouth.

Sitting and rotting can’t be the goal of all these life extending miracles the drug companies keep producing. As cliche as it may sound, have we really improved our quality of life by adding more years to our life at the expense of more life in your years?

I would submit that getting in this habit now, whatever your age, of re-framing this issue from “can’t” to “can” is crucial to longevity.


And if sitting on the sidelines is the only option available, reach out to whoever else is sitting there too. And although John never said so I think he would agree with me.

Thanks John, it was great to meet you!



4 Join the Conversation

  1. JudyLynn says
    May 11, 2018 at 11:35 AM

    Great advice!

    • says
      May 11, 2018 at 8:11 AM

      Thanks for reading, JL!

  2. Rebecca says
    May 13, 2018 at 3:12 AM

    More great advice from the Good Nervous System Doctor! I can think of several people who need to read this. I think the Lord would like us to live this way too.

    • says
      May 14, 2018 at 8:19 AM

      It's a good reminder for all of us!

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