In January, the Guinness Book of World Records recognized Kane Tanaka, of Japan, as the oldest living human. Tanaka’s date of birth is Jan. 2, 1903, making her 116 years old.
To put Tanaka’s age in perspective, when she was born, Theodore Roosevelt was president of the United States, the electric washing machine hadn’t been invented yet, and Betty White was only in the 10th grade.
As I approach my 60th birthday, the idea of living a long life has intrigued me. I have so many items on my bucket list I still need to check off; things like running with the bulls and getting hair plugs. In addition, if I could live 50 more years, that would give me a total of another two months of Vermont summer.
In the old days, it was believed that in order to live for over a century, you had to move to a small village in Russia, dress in a tattered fur coat, and eat large quantities of yogurt. Tanaka is proof this radical lifestyle isn’t necessary to surpass the 100-year mark. When asked for the secret to her longevity, her caretakers said the woman gets up at 6 a.m. every morning and enjoys board games and studying math. Ironically, studying math almost killed me as a youth. But, I digress.
Hearing about Tanaka has inspired me to set a personal goal of living to age 110. I realize if I want to achieve this milestone, I will need a detailed plan of attack. With this in mind, I have come up with a two-part lifestyle program I am calling “Operation 110.”
The first part of “Operation 110” involves modeling my behavior after that of the centenarians I have been reading about. I will eat and consume alcohol in moderation, remain optimistic and look on the sunny side of life, and play lots of Monopoly, Sorry and Risk.
And speaking of risk, the second component of “Operation 110” concerns doing everything possible to keep fate from prematurely snatching my goal away from me. I’m not talking about loading up on multi-vitamins and cutting back to two packs of cigarettes a day; I’m referring to acknowledging the role common sense plays in this plan.
While luck definitely has a part in living a long life, there are certain precautions a person can take to increase the odds of achieving an extended stay on this wonderful planet. Phase II of my strategy for reaching 110 consists of abiding by the following list of 20 “Laws of Longevity,” which you will never see in Prevention Magazine.
1) Never get in a car with anyone named Guido who kisses you on both cheeks before saying, “Let’s go for a ride.”
2) Always hold your lit cigar away from the tank when adding gas to your lawnmower.
3) Never keep peanut butter sandwiches in your pajama pockets when camping in Montana.
4) When hiking through the woods, don’t accept an apple from a strange old lady or eat the shutters off of a cabin made of candy.
5) Never substitute Crisco oil for sun screen.
6) Make sure the kids keep their marbles off to one side of the cellar steps.
7) Never set a picnic blanket on a live railroad track unless you are sure you have the most current Amtrak schedule.
8) Resist the temptation to shave while in a boat on choppy waters.
9) Never operate a wood chipper while wearing a bathrobe.
10) When playing with a stray bear cub, always keep an ear out for its mother.
11) Never make toast while taking a bath.
12) If your car breaks down in the city, don’t flash gang signs for help.
13) Never wear golf shoes while making repairs to a tin roof.
14) Always cook roadkill thoroughly before eating it.
15) Never store fireworks behind your wood stove.
16) Don’t keep your rat poison in a blue can next to the coffee maker.
17) Never wear a Bullwinkle costume in the woods in the fall.
18) Wait until the ceiling fan is turned off before cleaning the blades.
19) Never drink any liquid from a beaker.
20) When vacationing in Australia, always wash off your chum-scented cologne before body-surfing.
There you have it; my surefire personal road map for living a long life. At this point, I am two weeks into my plan to reach the age of 110. So far, so good …
Mark S. Albury lives in Northfield Falls.