Dr. George Sheehan
Runner’s World Magazine columnist Dr Sheehan is long gone, but he inspired a generation of fitness buffs from the 1960’s to the 90’s. His mantra: “Better 10,000 runners finish a marathon in 5 hours than 10,000 spectators cheer one champion finishing in 2.”
Sheehan went on to encourage seniors, geezers and grandparents to look differently on old age.
Sheehan wouldn’t use words like “comfort, safety, or serenity”. For God’s sake man, you’re no sleepy bubble of annal gas. You’re an exciting, creative being with a ton of experience. Start acting like that.
The Doctors gems:
“I had, of course, heard the excuse (The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak) many times before. But for the first time, it occurred to me that the opposite was also true. The flesh is willing; it is the spirit that is most often weak. Our bodies are capable of the most astounding feats. But the horizons of our spirits do not reach beyond the TV, the stereo, and the car in the garage.: The flesh is not only willing; it is eager for action.”
Or a second thought:
“I am—just as you are—a unique, never-to-be-repeated event in this universe. Therefore, I have—just as you have—a unique, never-to-be-repeated role to play in this world. Mine is a personal drama for which I am at once author, actor, director, and producer.”
“..The herd no longer needs us, nature no longer protects us, the race no longer cares. We are on our own. We have served our purpose.
What then are the prospects? Wonderful! Perhaps even better than wonderful. We can now return to the play and invention, the energy and intensity, the humor and intelligence we knew as children. The pressures that made us supportive of the herd are dying out. Each of us is feeling the urges that make us different rather than the same. Each of us is sensing the infinite varieties of body and mind, of values and temperament that make us unique.
We need no longer be bound by those rules, need no longer act out those roles. Somehow, we will find the strength and the courage and the insight to make our own rules, to act out our own drama.
That is the paradox. In what others consider the twilight years, we will be more than we ever were before. At a time when we are supposed to take to the easy chair and be content with serenity and a large book, we are transformed with energy. We have a vigor and a toughness youth cannot match, and for the first time since our childhood, we know how to play.”
Sheehan walked the walk, ran the run and today’s seniors are better for his doing so.