In his book “Anatomy of an Illness” Reflections of Healing and Regeneration, Norman Cousins recants the story of a man named Charles Thierry. He was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts in the year 1850 and lived to be 108 years old. Thierry was what I have come to identify as a spiritually centered athlete. He trusted nature, he trusted his own intuitive feelings and most of all he trusted God.
While his other friends turned to doctor’s orders, prescribed medications and were less active due to periodic or chronic depression, Thierry turned to long walks and energetic hikes in the country side. It was a daily habit that he had long cultivated even prior to his retirement. By the time Charles, a silversmith, was “put out to pasture” so to speak (at the age of 93) he was just coming into his own as a spiritual athlete. Despite his age or any aches or pains he may have been experiencing along the way, Thierry made certain that he enthusiastically walked every single day: rain or shine, regardless of the season, or the weather conditions permitting. At the age of 103 he contracted influenza and had the difficulties one would expect for a man recovering at such a late stage in his life. His physician at the time was a believer in the divine power of the mind and in nature and its recuperative properties.
He supported Charles’s intuitive health regimen and encouraged him to hit the trails again just as soon as he felt inclined to do so. Thierry eventually was well enough and resumed his routine walks with the same zest and dedication that he had always had until he came down with pneumonia and died five years later at the age of 108.
I think that athletic centurions are the best evidence of God’s spirit at work. According to Norman Cousins in the introduction of his book, men like Elias Metchnikoff present a cheerful picture of many elderly people he studied in Russia and in France. They live to a ripe old age because they remain active to the very end of their lives. Most of the people Cousins observed also participated in community affairs which would most likely, indicate a spiritual basis of some sort for their ongoing involvement all the way to the very last days of their existence. In the final analysis faith and physical fortitude worked to maintain a quality of life that gave the aged a different experience of their maturing years. These factors, in combination worked side by side to keep their bodies and minds in check along with a healthy restraint for the things in this world that would weaken their resistance leaving them more susceptible to disease.
Others Thoughts on This and Related Subjects –
Catholic Nun Raises the Bar for Older Athletes
About Norman Cousins author of “Anatomy of an Illness”
Living to 100 and Beyond
A life Well and Vigorous Lived and Some Marvelous Quotes on this topic
Tips for Aging Athletes
On the Topic of Growing Old – Why Asking Questions and Embracing Uncertainty is Good for You