Satchel Paige, perhaps the greatest Negro League and, arguably, the greatest any-league pitcher in baseball history, was once asked his age, a statistic that was frequently debated. Satch, who was a major league rookie in his early 40s and pitched for the Kansas City Athletics at age 60, answered the question, saying less about his age than about his general philosophy of life. He responded with a much more profound question of his own, “How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you was?”
I’m convinced that Satchel Paige should be considered the patron saint of retirees. His philosophy of life, as evidenced by his many of his sayings, represent exactly the attitude we need as we age through retirement.
My late aunt, Ethel “Tappy” Harris, lived at the Crown Center for Senior Living. Into her 80s and early 90s, she maintained a great attitude toward life. She was constantly looking for opportunities to stay engaged and interested. When she planned something and put it on her calendar, she could be counted on to say, “Well, that’s something to look forward to.”
Althought Satchel Paige said it just a bit differently, Satch and Tappy both had it right. Paige said, “Don’t look back. Something might be gaining on you.”
The research is consistent—how people feel about aging and their expectations of their capabilities have a greater impact on health, happiness, and longevity than their chronological age. Satch didn’t need to see the research data. He instinctively knew how to think about age, “Age is a question of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.”
Yep, Satchel Paige, the patron saint of retirees.