In between my joyful reunions with old friends here in LA, I've been hanging out with some new friends that are, in fact, old-ish.
Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, I set my iPhone alarm for 8:00 a.m. - still painfully early for me these days. I make the 1.2 mile drive - past my alma mater, Lakewood High School - and park at the Lakewood-Weingart YMCA, my new favorite place.
In the pool, I join the volleyball gang, a lively bunch of people who can spike, serve and tease with the best of 'em. Besides the joy of feeling bouyant in the water, I adore the ritual of victory. When a team wins, they gather hands in a circle, float on their backs and kick their feet in the middle while singing Village People: "Y-M-C-A!" The losing team usually just sulks. Then, we play a new game.
Then, I stay for another hour to do Water Aerobics with another set of seniors, some of whom - like Linda and Isabel - knew me as a baby.
I cannot overstate how inspiring it is to be with people who, although mostly decades older than I, are my kindred spirits. They believe as I do, that JOY can and should be a regular emotion, or at least a daily goal, and that exercise helps get you there.
Take the story of Ina, a 94-year-old pipsqueak who, up until 15 months ago, played v-ball regularly with the gang. One morning, Ina spiked the ball, urped out a quiet little "help" and went down. Her teammate, Bill, quickly got her out of the water and onto the pavement. They called 911 but Ina was gone. Heart attack.
Isn't that a fantastic death? I'd certainly rather end my days frolicking with friends than wearing a diaper in nursing home, that's for sure. I asked my new friend, Shirley, who was telling me the story as a witness, if Ina managed to get that final ball over the net.
She thought for a moment and smiled. "Yes. Yes, she did!" Ina won the Final Round, for sure.
(Statue photo shot in Colorado by Goomama.)