It’s never too late to choose role models

Bordered by Maine on the east, Vermont on the west, and Massachusetts on the south, with a narrow tip stretching up to touch Quebec, the 9,000 square mile triangle known as New Hampshire has to be one of the most beautiful spots in the U.S.
It’s a state with picturesque gulches and ravines–85 percent forested with 86 mountain peaks. A state that can be viewed from aerial trams or mountain trails.
It’s a wonderful state to visit but for me, the clear cut highlight was standing in Franconia Notch looking up at “The Great Stone Face.” In fact, we stood so long at that semi-sacred site that those back at the hotel grew worried.
The Old Man of the Mountains they call him, and he appears on every New Hampshire licence plate. It’s true, as one tourist said, it takes some imagination to actually see the face; but lucky for us, Nathaniel Hawthorne had that imagination.
And he immortalized The Great Stone Face forever.
Hawthorne’s character, Ernest, was a boy when his mother first sat with him gazing at The Great Stone Face and told him of the prophecy. That one day there would be “a man with exactly such a face as that.”
And said the little boy, “If I were to see a man with such a face, I should love him dearly.”
Ernest lived all his life in humble surroundings and laboured in the fields. Each day at dusk, he studied The Great Stone Face and waited with hope for the prophecy to be fulfilled.
First there was Mr. Gathergold, the man with the Midas touch. But he was proven an impostor. The same was true of the great warrior Old Blood-and-Thunder.
Still the people of the valley hoped, and Ernest continued to gaze at the face with its “gentle wisdom” and “tender sympathies.” Until he was an old man and people came from far and near to hear his wisdom.
Yet still the prophecy had not been fulfilled. But then one day, a wise poet exclaimed in front of all the people, “Behold! Behold! Ernest is himself the likeness of The Great Stone Face!”
And that’s the way it is, you know. You can’t admire something all your life without shaping your own reality. You become what you gaze at and think about.
Last week, I talked about centenarians worth emulating. George Burns who taught us “laughter always helps,” and Marjorie Stoneman Douglas who proved “you’re never too old to try something new.”
This week, I’ll add two more and you don’t even have to read their books. All you have to do is gaze at the pictures.
Start with “The Delany Sisters Book of Everyday Wisdom” and turn to page 110. There you’ll find two women, 100 and 102 years old, twisted into yoga pretzels. Is that a centenarian you’d like to be? If so, remember they earned their flexibility by exercising every day for 40 years.
And then turn to “Playing Chess with the Heart–Beatrice Wood at 100.” Wood chose Marlene Wallace as her photographer because “She has the ability to portray me as the 32-year-old that I choose to be.” Take a look and think about what age you choose to be.
It’s true that this side of 60, you don’t have an entire lifetime left. But you do have today. And you can still choose the images you gaze at and think about.
You can still choose the person you want to be, and to become.

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