I did my first tri in 1982. I think from then until I retired in 1997, triathlons were a way to keep in shape, as well as an outlet for fun as part of the excitement of competition.
My overall goals were focused on work and family, so triathlons were a secondary matter, a hobby. I dabbled in races, including a few national and even international level events, but getting to the podium was sufficient. In 1993, however, I competed in the Ironman Kona while still working full time, and realized that my career and the outcomes I grew to desire were not exactly compatible. One or the other had to go – so I elected to retire. It was 1997 and I was now ready to get serious about triathlons – at age 60.
I can’t say I became more relevant to the world, to society, to my family or posterity, but a revamped focus on triathlon training and competing at the highest level made the sport of triathlon more relevant to my passion for excellence. Now the podium was not enough – the goal was the top step on the podium – to being first. I did not always get there, but I did so more and more as time passed.
As tris became more relevant to who I was, in part, my sense of relevance in all other areas remained as satisfying as ever.
And now, 36 years of involvement in the sport behind me, I sense a change in the offing. Tris will become less relevant but new interests should complement the foundation values (family) of most importance. A complete circle, perhaps. It has been a satisfying and fun ride.
Not having a purpose, not having an identity and not being relevant becomes an issue, whether consciously or unconsciously, after we have left the workforce. On the job we had a title, responsibility and were productive in the avenues of life. All of that was left behind when we retired – no more job title, so hello Mr./Ms. Nobody. Without self-worth, elders may undergo emotional and physical tolls to the point of depression.
Hello triathlon! When in the workforce, triathlons and duathlons were just something I did. Now that I am retired, triathlons are who I am. I have an identity – I’m a triathlete, relevant and looking forward to the next local race, the next national championship and hopefully, another world championship race.
My late wife Carolyn called me a professional amateur athlete. No loss of self-respect, self-esteem or self-worth in that!
With respect to relevance, I say it pretty much depends. How you feel relevant at an advanced age might have one set of standards with regard to family and an entirely different one in relation to society.
I’ve never been crazy about old people, mainly because they act old. As a child they were always picking me up. Old men in that era smelled like cigars; old ladies stunk of perfumes. The old people then were probably in their thirties – perspectives change over time. Although they were busy at jobs and raising families, the really old folks were just hanging around, sitting, talking and grecksing (whining) about one thing or another. They didn’t appear to be relevant to anything but themselves. They acted old. So, boost your relevance when old by not acting stereotypically – stay on the move, using whatever physical and mental abilities you have to help others. In this way you will be relevant to more than just your cats and dogs.
Relevance is a noun that means the quality or state of being closely connected or appropriate, as in this book is relevant to an understanding of things important to think about, if possible, well before getting old.
It’s important to be clear about the meaning of a term before expounding upon it.
An older person, like anyone else, will believe his life is relevant if he’s convinced his continued existence matters, to himself and others. There is no medical or other way to test for relevancy – you are relevant if you think you are.
We should all live in such a way that we always accept without doubt that we are relevant, the better to enjoy a little June in the December of our lives. I think a sense of relevance will almost surely be experienced by one animated by concerns for and responsibilities to others, even if, to cite an an extreme case, it’s a commitment to look after a pet! More likely, it’s a conviction that there are still things to do that contribute in some way to the happiness of others, or quests that promote a bit more justice, understanding, humanity, liberty or love in the world.
Relevance – the quality or state of being closely connected. How do we remain relevant as we grow older?
First and foremost we must stay involved with people. Stay connected! Seek out new friends if you relocate or your older friends fade away. Add some younger folk to the mix – they often bring enthusiasm and are a prime source of refreshing new ideas. Find a hobby group or common interest group you can connect with to meet new people.
Don’t be afraid to try something new. The process of learning can be a good mental exercise. Sure, that cell phone might be a little complicated, but learning to use it makes it much easier to connect with friends and relatives. Or maybe you can strive to become more familiar with a computer. Get comfortable with surfing the net or writing your own app if you need a greater challenge.
Don’t spend too much time remembering the good ol’ days. This can be a real turn-off. Find something good in the now and new. Keep up with the trends!
Plainly stated, if you are relevant it means that you, through your actions or opinions, are worth something to somebody. So, why not provide some worthwhile service to someone. I once had a friend who delivered meals-on-wheels when he was into his nineties. Surely he was relevant to those folks. And I believe providing that service gave him a sense of self-worth,
Indeed, if we want others to feel that we are worth something to them, we have to believe in ourselves, seek to make a difference, and maintain a sense of self-worth.
Becoming and remaining relevant is a challenge throughout life, and becomes more so as aging inevitably requires more consideration and even assistance from others. There is no single formula that will fit all, but my experience suggests the importance of a healthy lifestyle to stay agile and well as long as possible. Also important is to maintain a few younger friends, to be open to fresh thinking and making a commitment to stay up-to-date with modern times, such as by using technology. Don’t be afraid to try new things – many people take pleasure in being helpful, so do others a favor and let teach them teach you cool new things that you can try and play around with.
It might also be a good idea to keep your aches and pains to yourself!
Be creative and mix a bit of cross train exercise into your daily routine.
Triathlons are OK but a bit on the far side of almost too much, at least eventually. Of course, that’s true for everything, so go ahead and do as much as you want to take on, but be prepared to fall back and moderate things as time goes by. Try Pilates, yoga, water aerobics, running or walking in the water with a flotation belt, rowing, hiking. The lower the impact, the easier exercise will be on your body.
And go out now and then to dinner with friends, take in a concert and varied cultural activities. I have not played golf in 50 years, but someone just gave me her clubs, so I think I take the game up again. Maybe I’ll find I got good at it watching the Masters on TV now and then.
In any case, a new challenge is always good and keeps the relevance meter on a high setting!
When I look at the big picture in the context of relevancy, my first observation is this: how could any American claim to be relevant if he or she does not vote and otherwise participate in our democracy at the national, state and local levels? The quality of our governance is very much relevant to the privileges and opportunities we value for our society. I wonder how many Democrats and Independents among the 48 percent who did not bother to vote in 2016 feel about our country’s governance today? I wonder if, perhaps, the non-voters have any regrets about the choice they made not to be relevant by staying home? Just wondering, that’s all.
Scaling relevancy down to everyday situations, I see it broken down into two categories. Relevant to yourself, and relevant to others. In either category, a measure of active commitment, such as regards voting, seems a requisite element for feeling so. Within these two categories, a countless number of subcategories could be listed.
Triathlons can be cited to illustrate relevancy.
During the countless solo hours of training, whether in water bodies, on the roads or in the gyms, all the training is relevant to your purposes, goals, identify and inner self.
However, when training with others, or being in competition, your relevance is also reflected in the context of others, directly or indirectly.
I consider myself relevant on many levels, from the broad scale of participating in society, being a good person and functioning as an athlete as long as I can, committing myself fully to the integrity of my life, my country and my sport.
Suggestions for others: Find something new to challenge your gray matter. If there’s a job worth doing, do it right. Make what you do meaningful for yourself or you or someone else or, better yet, for both.
As a triathlete, my compliment emulation – when something said, I want to be just like you when I grow up. (I sometime wondered: Why wait? Be like me now!)
If you can’t run with the big dogs, modify things a bit – join them on their way back.
Don’t spend too much time sitting on the porch!
Of course, these are all practices I follow myself.
I built a number of companies and managed a lot of people. Now I provide advice at the board level of companies. I don’t miss the demands of day-to-day management. Certainly board level decisions are relevant, but it just doesn’t feel the same.
Relevancy to me means that I am important in the lives of others. I remain relevant by, among other ways, being an inspiration to them. Very frequently after races, a young person will ask to have her or his picture taken with me. I’m told I’m an inspiration. I recommend staying with an active lifestyle – doing so will beneficially affect their whole life. I have unknowingly inspired other older people to take up a more active lifestyle. They think if I can do it, they can do it.
Most of my friends, athletic and non athletic, are much younger, usually the ages of my children. I feel comfortable with people of all ages and I can relate to them. I’d like to think that I am relevant to my children, even though we are miles apart. I know they are proud of me. I am very relevant to my partner, Jack. Since knowing me he has improved his lifestyle and diet.
My relevancy to others has contributed to my own sense of self worth and personal accomplishment.
Staying relevant is often mentioned as critical to ones quest to aging successfully. I’m 80 years old and here is my personal formula with regard to this vital aspect of aging.
I have hearing loss. It has been getting progressively worse over the last 10 years. If I am part of a conversation and I can’t hear what is going on, I become boring and yes, quite irrelevant to those conversing. I realize that over the long haul if not addressed, I will be heading down a path that will permanently label me as boring. While hearing aids do not offer a 100% correction, they are helpful and a small but important win for relevance.
Should I be so fortunate as to compete in a Triathlon and get onto the podium, at a bare minimum, I want to negotiate the steps leading to the podium without needing help or tripping or otherwise looking unsteady. So what does this have to do with relevance? If you want to stay relevant, you will need to keep moving, travelling and going places with friends and family. Those 2 and 3 times per week gym visits to strengthen core, leg, lower back and upper body muscles are the foundational tickets to relevance.
Games are not to be underestimated in the quest for staying relevant. Bridge is a great example of a game that requires memory, strategy, communications, partnership and continual learning and stimulation. Getting to the next level is always challenging and fun. It’s a great way to stay connected to the world.
I have learned that writing is a great way to stay connected and relevant. For example, in the last 5 years, I wrote a 2,000 word story about my father and shared it with siblings, nieces, and nephews. They all knew him and appreciated many parts of him they didn’t know. I wrote a short essay when I was 77 describing what life is like now (made believe I was 90) in contrast to how good I had it when I was 77. Countless ideas may come to mind for you. Writing really helps clarify, communicate and stay relevant.
I’d rather be remembered for one pure, life-changing deed than how many trophies I’ve stashed away. The deed may have permanence; trophies will be discarded.
Fixed in my mind is a scene from September 18, 2016 at the World Triathlon Series championship in Cozumel, Mexico when Alastair Brownlee sacrificed his certain win in order to assist his brother Jonny, who was seriously faltering during the final meters of that event. Who can forget it? Not I, or anyone who was there or has watched the video (recommended). I wonder how many who were there remember the name of the winner of that race?
I also recall a remark by Bill Rodgers, perennial champion of the Boston and New York marathons a few decades ago. An interviewer, moments after Bill broke the tape, commented on the impressive nature of his record-setting race. Bill paused, looked back and said his run took only a little over two hours. More impressive, in his mind, Bill suggested, are the performances of those yet to finish who, at that moment, were but halfway to the finish line at Copley Square.
And then there was Julie Moss, a young graduate student at Cal Poly, who, with victory only a few yards away in plain sight, struggled mightily to finish. This was the first Ironman to be televised, and that nearly immortal scene of Julie’s struggle in 1982 is probably the most memorable triathlon image still to this date.
Julie stumbled, crawled, rose and fell again attempting to complete the final yards while, with steps to go, another competitor went by for the narrow victory. While deprived of first place, reruns of that finish continue to motivate thousands to take up the sport.
Being relevant does not usually involve such drama as suggested by my examples, above. Nor do the things we do that contribute to our relevance gain much, if any attention. But, little things that represent moments of kindness, sacrifice or exceptional efforts in the face of long odds, do enable a sense that our lives matter and are worthwhile.
On several occasions as a child, I heard words to the effect that my purpose is to make a contribution to the world. Not all the advice I received growing up made as much sense as that message, I’m afraid. Nonetheless, whenever I do something I judge worthy, I feel a modest surge of relevance. On occasions, I even like to think that such relevance comes from being an inspiration for others to be the best they can be.