Within my own home suburb of Rhodes, NSW, there is a large number of Chinese people. Living close by the water I get a fantastic view across the bridge to small park by the water of which many elderly people partake in evening activities. All to themselves, the noise from the bridge becomes merely a murmur across the sandstone pavements and the croaky boardwalk. A short walk across the bridge gives me insight into a rather amusing event.
First I heard the rough, low quality of a cassette radio (propped up beside what became clear as a very new adidas sports-bag—which I was very impressed by and slightly envious of) blaring-out some—of what I can only assume were—Chinese pop songs.
This was followed by the visual of maybe thirty elderly people dancing in what looked like a jazzercise routine at -200x the speed. I giggled at the matching, polyester-tracksuit clad clan processing and shuffling through this routine for what seemed to last just over an hour. Which upon further thought, is quite an impressive length of time to exercise, for a group with a median age I could only assume was 65.
Although it seemed too obvious and obtrusive to take photos of the crowd, I found it very interesting to sketch and watch the way in which they all, rather graciously, moved between each action as one cohesive group. And more particularly the way in which they almost seemed to meld perfectly in with the wharf, the muted street lights and the park surrounding them, almost as if they created the park solely for their purpose.
I did note some younger folk amongst the crowd, perhaps three or four, of whom I could only assume were their children and grandchildren. They only became clear as they did shy away from the more ‘embarrassing’ dance moves. These younger people and two ladies at the end of the session—having a rather secretive chat by the edge of the wharf— where the only things that seemed so unnatural to that setting.
Overall it was almost relaxing for me to simply watch this crowd, connecting on a very slow, precise and non-serious level, and believe this was the community/family bonding purpose of the activity, aside from the point to exercise.
I had the opportunity to interview my mentor, Steve Clisby, who I regard as a rather unconventional 71-year-old. As an active and long-time member of the international music industry—still performing, playing, writing, mentoring, and of course, learning as much as he can, whenever he can—Steve’s age is merely a number of experiences, not-conforming at all, to any standards, expectations or assumptions of an ageing citizen.
His incredibly positive, health-conscious, and age-less approach to life is what made me believe his opinions and view of QOL factors would be an interesting angle to explore.
Without even having to explain or ask about his physical, spiritual and psychological states of being (as complete or separate entities) Steve told me his approach and secret to life, as all three in one-go: “Always keeping my mind open to new ideas. Listening to and mentoring younger people. Physical fitness. Abstaining from alcohol, drugs and eating whole foods.”. Regarding his health, music and relationships (family, personal and business) as the most important things in his life, his connection and activity within each of these three realms—psychological, physical and spiritual— of being and belonging are what make him regard his current place in life as his most fulfilling: “[I have] more envy of youth than fear, but no regrets. If I had it to do over again I think I’d prefer to be where I am”.
Steve told me how he hopes to “leave something behind that people will remember.” and still strives to “[write] a huge hit record I can be proud of and having a loving and supportive family. I’m still working on both”, showing a sense of aspiration and perhaps a mild sense of un-fulfilment that his age may start to put pressure on; a side to him that may otherwise not be so obvious.
He paused for a moment in our interview just after the previous question, only adding “I feel comfortable in the fact that regardless of where I am at the moment I’ve done the best with what I’ve had to work with. No regrets! I never had a plan B…[I am] competitive and being fearless in attaining your goals and being gracious in defeat.” values he tells me are from his US upbringing. Yet, his strong sense of belonging can only be considered as worldly. Steve is not only a switched-on, but well informed and nurtured by his existence as a global citizen.
Perhaps the most poignant message in our interview came at the sweet last moment. “I was raised in California, grew up in Holland and live in Australia. [I’m a] citizen of the world I guess. The goal is to feel at home in your own body.”. It seems to me, after our conversation as though Steve’s incredible physical, mental and psychological health is a reflection of his life of experiences and reflection of his incredibly interesting life, at that.
Steve also offered to play me one of his favourite songs: http://www.filedropper.com/img5928