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Can you rise to the occasion?
(No. 67) Sit down, get up, paint yourself, and live separately, by Stephen P. Williams
An illustrated man
Photo by Donald Teel on Unsplash
I assume the gentleman above got his tattoos when he was young. I’m sure he thought they’d look great when he got old. I’m not sure they ever did. But I’m not against tattoos. I got my first (and only) tattoo at age 55. These people are doing it at 60 and beyond.
A test for the ages
I went out with two of my adult children today to buy a little Christmas tree. And I didn’t get grumpy about it, as I have in years past when the soul-killing little Scrooge on one shoulder often shouted over Rudolph’s soothing charms on the other shoulder. This year I just said, Aw to hell with it. This old soldier no longer has the bile to wage war on Christmas. And you know what? The holidays are a lot easier this way. Except for one thing.
Our friendly tree seller turns pine and fir needles into greenbacks at her stand around the corner. When I suggested that $70 might be a very high price for this scrawny, short tree, she told me it was worth $110. Oh well, thats NYC. If we manage to decorate this tree, it will be magnificent, if diminutive. Photo by Self.
In the past we bought big trees. Today we bought a scrawny four-footer that we set against a column in the center of our living room, illuminated by a bright sconce. I got down on the floor to adjust the base while my middle daughter held the tree straight. Then I asked her to get a small pitcher of water while I continued to lie on the floor. The hard wood was comfortable. And, since I’m 63, I calculated that there was no benefit to standing up, only to get back down on the floor again to give the tree its water.
After adjusting the tree, I remained on my back, enjoying the view. I asked my daughter if she was able to get up from a sitting position on the floor without using her hands. She sat down, and she got up, though she almost fell over in the process.
“I know that I can’t do that right now,” I said. “But I also know that is a leading indicator of how long, and how well, a person will live.”
My daughter didn’t buy it. This was just another ridiculous story that Dad could claim to know.
“But it's true,” I said with unwavering certainty. “Those who can’t get up with no hands will die many years younger than those who can. And that’s why I’m working out every day.”
“I doubt that’s true,” she said, walking off. “It sounds kind of far-fetched.”
I had heard this so many times that I believed it 100 percent. But I’d never looked into it. Turns out this test, like so many tests in our world right now, is polarizing, divisive, sometimes mean, and sometimes accurate. It all began when a doctor in Brazil devised the sit rise test as a way to predict longevity. He studied 2,000 people and came up with a system whereby people would stand, cross their legs, and sit down in a controlled way until their butts touched the ground. Then they would reverse the move to rise back up. For a perfect sit rise, they would be awarded 10 points. Each time they touched the ground with a hand, elbow, knee or other body part besides their feet and butt, they would lose one point. Supposedly, each point meant a 20 percent increase in a person’s risk of dying in the next 6 years.
The exercise test makes sense in some ways, as it tests a person’s core strength, balance and mobility. All these are key to longer lives. Fortunately, almost anyone can raise their score by doing strength and balance exercises, including weights, pilates, yoga and -- pretty much any exercise will help.
The test has acquired some true believers, some of them a bit scary.
This video shows the harsh, fascist side of the sit-rise test.
In the mashup of science and fantasy, above, statistics are manipulated pugilistically, though I do believe the guy has a point. But don’t try doing this if your hips, knees or other areas are compromised. Build the muscles up first.
This video, below, shows the lovely, civilized and fun British perspective on the test:
While many factors other than sitting and rising contribute to longevity, this test definitely reveals a lot about how strong a person is. If you’re scoring below 8, maybe you should start “studying to the test.” Try doing it every day. It will become a workout. I bet that within a few months your muscles will be firing like they haven't in a long time. You might even turn yourself into a perfect ten.
According to the trend excavators at The New York Times, older adults are choosing to couple up in separate abodes, rather than sharing the shack. They’re happier this way, and less stressed about the possibility that they’ll end up taking care of their partners when they get sick and old. Sounds great, though it seems that if you could abandon the love of your life when they get sick, the relationship might not be that great to begin with. Couldn’t you still help your partner out, just from a separate apartment?
A simple, short dose of red light can stimulate ATP production in your eyeballs, according to New Scientist magazine. That brings more energy to the mitochondria, possibly slightly improving your eyesight.
Paint what you know
An 89 year old painter keeps returning to the eros of her own body.
Selfie by Self, in Marfa, Texas June, 2020
Happy holidays to all of you. I can’t tell you how good it feels to hear from you, and know that you are reading this newsletter. I hope to offer some new, interesting perspectives in the coming year. Let’s all be happy, or content, or not bothered or whatever suits us as individuals. You can even be miserable, as long as you enjoy it.
I’ll be back with the next newsletter in the New Year. Yours, Stephen