Editorial: William Shatner and the new 90
Like many of you, we saw some video clips the past couple of days of William Shatner discussing his planned trip into space this morning aboard Jeff Bezos' privately funded Blue Origin.
"I want to have a perspective that hasn't been shown to me before," the iconic Star Trek voyager said. "That's what I'm interested in seeing."
We share Shatner's fascination with space and the endless expanse of the universe, and we wish him well on today's 11-minute flight into weightlessness. If all goes well, about three or four of those minutes will be enjoying that unusual lightness of being.
The mission flies about 62 miles above the earth. To put that into perspective, that's about the distance from Arlington Heights to Rockford or from Naperville to the Wisconsin state line. We have to gasp at how thin the fragile layer of our atmosphere really is.
Like you, we wish Shatner and the crew a safe flight and landing. We hope to see him in the suburbs when he's scheduled to appear Sunday morning at Wizard World Chicago in Rosemont.
But as fascinated as we are by space, we're equally fascinated by Shatner's vigor. He's 90, but his zest is inspiring. He does not look like the 90 we remember as kids.
Yes, part of that is because we are not kids anymore. Admittedly, our perspective has changed. The older you get, the less old being old seems.
But partly because people not only are living longer, they're also living sharper.
For years, we have written stories about centenarians. In recent years, they've become somewhat less newsworthy simply because it's not unheard of for someone to live to 100 anymore. This year, there are about 97,000 in the United States. Just over a decade ago, there were 53,364. That's an 82% increase in 11 years. By 2030, the number is expected to grow to 140,000, according to statistic.com. By the middle of the century, it should climb to half a million.
Any baby boomer is impressed by the vitality of so many rockers like Mick Jagger, Ringo Starr, Paul McCartney, Bruce Stringsteen who are performing well into their 70s or even in Ringo's case, 81.
Obviously, this is encouraging for all of us who wish to live a long and vital life.
How to do so? Exercise every day, your mind as well as your body. One definition of life is movement. Keep moving to keep living.
Healthy eating. Good conversation. Childlike curiosity. Plenty of sleep. A sense of purpose. Reductions in worry and stress. A belief in something. Gratitude. Endless love. And of course, a bit of luck.
These are the ingredients of longevity.
If you can add a quick trip into outer space, well, that might help too.