Live long and prosper. The key question is: How does one achieve long life and prosperity? In some cultures someone my age - 55 - would have already been told to go sit on an ice flow and wait for either death or a hungry polar bear to find me. In this society, while I may be considered long of tooth in some circles, most people consider me middle aged, at least as long as my senility moments are not too obvious. (Why did I get out of my chair?)

Live long and prosper.


Even a casual "Star Trek" fan recognizes the salutation frequently heard uttered by natives of the planet Vulcan.


The key question is: How does one achieve long life and prosperity?


In some cultures someone my age - 55 - would have already been told to go sit on an ice flow and wait for either death or a hungry polar bear to find me. In this society, while I may be considered long of tooth in some circles, most people consider me middle aged, at least as long as my senility moments are not too obvious. (Why did I get out of my chair?)


And while I now feature some silver hair, at least where hair is willing to grow on my head, I’m still waiting for the wisdom to arrive that is supposed to accompany growing older. Consequently, the insights I share today are not mine, but from people have already crossed the city limits into Seniorville.


As you might imagine, the insights to living a long life are numerous. Some of it, however, is not particularly helpful.


A reporter was once interviewing a man who had reached 106 years of age.


“What’s your secret to a long life?” he said.


The senior rocked for a time, pondering the answer. He finally said, “Keep breathing.”


More profound are the insights of 114-year-old Walter Breuning, who at the time of his death on April 14 held the distinction of being the world’s oldest man and second-oldest person, according to the Gerontology Research Group. Breuning was 26 days younger than the world’s oldest person - Besse Cooper of Monroe, Ga.


Last October, Breuning was interviewed by The Associated Press at a retirement home in Great Falls, Mont., where he was living.


Any reporter worth his or her salt, if given the chance to interview the world’s oldest man, would at some point ask his secret(s) to a long life.


Some of Breuning’s responses were:


• Embrace change, even when the change slaps you in the face. (“Every change is good.”)


• Eat two meals a day. (“That’s all you need.”)


• Work as long as you can. (“That money is going to come in handy.”)


• Help others. (“The more you do for others, the better shape you’re in.”)


• Accept death. (“We’re going to die. Some people are scared of dying. Never be afraid to die. Because you’re born to die.”)


There are times I feel a twinge of envy when I encounter people close to my age who are already retired. According to Breuning, retirement is not necessarily the blessing young, whipper-snappers like me perceive it to be.


“Don’t retire until you’re darn sure that you can’t work anymore. Keep on working as long as you can work and you’ll find that it’s good for you,” said Breuning, who retired at 67 after putting in 50 years as a railroad worker.


Aside from a niece and nephew who rarely visited him, Breuning had no family left. However, he never felt alone as he considered the residents and staff at the retirement home his support group. Such relationships are essential, according to Breuning.


“Yeah, we’re all one big family, I tell you that. We all talk to each other all the time. That’s what keeps life going. You talk,” he said.


Finally, Breuning urged people not to ignore their mind or body.


“Everybody says your mind is the most important thing about your body. (It’s) your mind and your body. You keep both busy, and you’ll be here a long time,” he said.


Now that we’ve covered the secrets to living a long life, what about prosperity? Alas, I’m not qualified to offer any insights on that topic either.


Hannibal Courier-Post