by Denis Wuestman
Going back 50 years when the Beatles released the song When I’m 64 I recall thinking that my parents at the time weren’t even that age. It’s hard to identify with something so far away. Yet this little ditty was enjoyable back then as it is now – only the number 64 is rapidly approaching on me. But hey – I think the person that wrote and sang it, Sir Paul McCartney, has shown us what is possible as we age. One story I read said that he wrote it when he was 16 years of age and his father had just turned 64. Genius!
A few weeks ago I had the distinct pleasure of watching Sir Paul perform live during his One on One World Tour. Paul is now 75 years old and, days before this event, the curiosity among my friends was how he will look and sound. Many of us dearly remember the days of the Beatles and Wings and were anxious to relive those memories. Little did we know, we were in for both a history lesson as well as some lessons as to what is possible as we age – thanks to a true living legend.
Throughout a magical 3-hour show, Paul McCartney took us through the pre-Beatle days all the way up to his current music, filled with anecdotes about some of his most memorable songs. When he introduced Love Me Do, he told the audience that John was originally going to sing it but their producer, George Martin, wanted John to play the harmonica in conjunction with the words being sung. He turned to Paul, who admitted how nervous he was at the young age, to do the singing. The rest is history and the beginning of something very special.
During the concert McCartney, shared stories of other songs as well as paid tribute to John, George and George Martin. He connected so well with the audience as he played multiple instruments and covered over 35 songs, a true lasting experience. I kept thinking that I am watching a living page out of history, sharing and teaching us along the way through his music and vitality – how lucky we all are.
75 – So what!
Not lost on me or my friends was the energy, the recognizable voice/mannerisms and stamina that McCartney displayed during this almost 3 hour marathon of a show. He didn’t leave the stage once! He also sounded great. I often marvel at the ability of many of our treasured musical legends to continue to do what they do in their 70’s, appearing to do so effortlessly and with passion. On the way home, our group talked about the secret to aging in such a manner. We had to laugh – we were all in our mid to late 60’s but 75 felt so far away. This was not unlike how we felt as teenagers when we first heard When I’m 64. Only now – 75 is NOT so far away. Here are some things that we learned from Sir Paul about aging;
• Stay fit – even though we are not in show business and might not have a personal cook and/or trainer, a focus on good eating, exercise, and continuing to just keep moving every day seemed critical to the energy and stamina to perform. I recall Stevie Nicks saying at a Fleetwood Mac concert how much hard work the musicians have to put in to get in shape for the concert. Lesson: it’s important for us to take care of our bodies.
• Attitude – while none of us had personally asked any of these performers what their attitude on aging is – we surmised that it had to be that they chose to look at their age as just a number and to live life to the fullest. Having a positive mindset towards aging – in the sense of thinking that the future is bright – can certainly make a difference is how it unfolds.
• Purpose – whatever drives someone to continue to WORK the way McCartney does? We noticed that this is hard work, no matter what age you are. Our little group concluded that it can’t all be about the $. What was evident was that they were doing this because it meant something to them. I often think that they do this “because they can”, but it has to be deeper than that. As we age, whether we do things because of others, for ourselves or simply because we enjoy it – is important. Having a purpose and fulfilling that with meaningful activities (including work) can make a positive impact on our lives and those of others.
I hope that the history and life lessons will stay with me for a long time. I could have listened to Sir Paul all night – but then again, I am not alone. I still have all the music and books to help me remember the history and those three lessons on aging that will boost my energy and vitality past 64!