Just Keep Doing What You Love: Lessons Learned From My 73-Year-Old Dad About Thriving
“It’s a three-sport day,” my dad tells me on the phone. “The best kind of day.”
His voice is brimming with enthusiasm as he recounts his day. He started out skiing the double black diamond slopes of Mt. Bachelor, arriving as the lifts opened at 9 am. After a few hours, he was pooped — his language, not mine — the perfect time for a lunch break before heading off to pickleball for a few hours in the sunny, crisp air in Bend, Oregon. He doesn’t mention it, but I know he was able to sneak in a power nap or two before heading out for a sunset mountain bike ride to cap the day off. My dad has always been the king of power naps.
Earlier that week, my dad celebrated his seventy-third birthday, a number that, for any normal person, would mean slowing down. And yet my dad, a spitting image of the person he was as a 35-year-old, shows no sign of doing any such thing.
A retired dentist, my dad doesn’t look much different than he did when I was a kid. Six foot five, he stoops slightly to avoid hitting his head on doorframes. His imposing height is offset by his almost shockingly thin frame, something that’s impossible not to notice when you give him a hug. My dad took Michael Pollen’s eating manifesto of “eat real food, not too much, mostly plants” very seriously when he read it years ago — especially the “not too much” part. He subsists mostly on fresh vegetables, legumes, and copious handfuls of nuts. Over the years, I’ve concluded that his calorie intake would be much too little for his activity level were it not for the chocolate chip cookies he sneaks when he thinks no one is looking.
My dad has always been the most active person I know, full of energy and vitality. This hasn’t changed a bit since I was a kid. I grew up accompanying him on his adventures, not always by choice. “Isn’t this fun?” he’d say with a huge smile on his face as my mom and I hid behind wind shelters, trying not to get blown away by the thirty-five mile an hour gusts while he windsurfed the famous waters of the Columbia River Gorge. His infectious enthusiasm made it impossible to tell him no.
My dad didn’t seem to notice or care that I was a girl and tried to involve me in every sport or activity he did, but I was…