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Pine Nuts: Secrets to longevity

McAvoy Layne

On the 30th of November I will be celebrating Mark Twain’s 187th birthday by observing some of the secrets to his longevity, a few of which we can share here.

“You can’t reach old age by another man’s road. My habits protect my life, while they would assassinate you…

As for drinking, I have no rules about drinking, when others are drinking, I like to help. I have found that a tumbler full of whiskey in the early evening is a preventative against toothache. I’ve never had the toothache, and I don’t intend to have one.



As for smoking, well, I came into the world asking for a light, and will probably go out blowing smoke rings. But I’m smoking in moderation now. I never smoke more than one cigar at a time, never smoke while asleep anymore … never refrain while awake. This is a good rule. It wouldn’t answer for everybody trying to get to be 187 years old, but it answers for me.

As for exercise, I’ve never taken any exercise and I don’t intend to take any. Exercise is loathsome. I’ve never seen any advantage in being tired. Whenever I get the urge to exercise, I go lie down somewhere until it passes away. Oh, and never put off until tomorrow what you can put off until day after tomorrow. Whatever a man’s age, he can reduce it several years by putting a bright-colored flower in his buttonhole.”



Yet even more than celebrating Mark Twain’s birthday, I will get to celebrate the 80th birthday of lifelong friend, Bonnie McLaverty, and she’s still very much alive, much like an uncorked bottle of champagne. I just wrote Bonnie a note, a note of acknowledgment for a life lesson learned so many years ago on a school bus ride with her, well, here’s the note…

Dearest Bonnie,

I learned a life lesson on a school bus ride with you to Del Rey Elementary on the morning after your father had died. I wanted so to say something comforting to you but could not figure out what it was I wanted to say, so I didn’t say anything. All that day, and beyond, I admonished myself for not having said something, anything, to acknowledge your sorrow. I made a promise to myself to never again deliberate what to say, but to step right in and say something, anything, from the heart.

Over the many years to follow, I have, in fact, found myself in that very position, and have stepped forward to offer condolence without hesitation or a moment’s thought as to what I might be intending to say. Expanding upon that notion, it might be safe to say that we can never go wrong, no matter what the circumstance, when we speak from the heart. Sometimes a simple hug will answer.

So, Bonnie, if I failed to say so on our school bus ride down Valley View Drive toward Del Rey Elementary on that morning 68 years ago, please do accept my belated condolences, for I did indeed feel great sympathy for you in the loss of your father…

Your lifelong friend,

McAvoy


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