Senior Moment

By Matt Katz


ho is John Platero, and why does he mock me? I hadn’t seen his name in my inbox since last fall. Then suddenly, in early May, he’s back. And he's written a book about "Fitness After 40."

There he is on the book's cover, at 50, looking like a 30-year-old, and meanwhile I'm trying to forget that I turn 40 in a week and feel like ... a 40-year-old. Which isn’t so bad per se, but still I’m fighting it. Not as nimbly as I fought in my twenties, though. It’s all pawing jabs and defense born of experience from here on out, a downward slide to the last round.

Or is it? I mean, here’s a guy who so thoroughly dominated his division at the Huntsman Senior World Games (10,000 athletes from 20 different countries) that one or two officials weren't enough to confirm his age. So they called in a third. Then a fourth. And finally the other competitors, particularly the road-racing cyclists, had to accept that this was no fake ID college prank.

When the dust settled, 50-year-old John returned to Ventura County with gold medals from all four of the road-racing events. On his mountain bike, he actually crashed, launched face first into the dirt, rolled, got back on the bike—and still only missed the gold by .14 seconds. (Whoever took that medal had to feel a bit wobbly atop the winners’ platform.)

Platero’s approach to health is based on the physics of the body: exercise combined with proper rest and nutrition. And to be sure, those are essential ingredients in the recipe of complete wellness. I wonder, though, where on the wellness scale they rank compared to intellectual self-awareness—truly understanding one’s place in the world.

Consider Jakob Bogenberger, a German scientist living in Ojai. How to explain the depth of this guy’s commitment to living well? Every aspect of his 40-acre property is a case study on doing things efficiently—which is to say, doing things well. And in that sense, he leads a supremely healthy existence.

But this is no muscle-bound gym rat. Weed abatement using a hand-held scythe, he tells me, has been his workout lately. Rhythmically slicing his way across 40 acres like some Green Reaper, moving quietly, listening to whistling blade and the birds, the oak trees and the whisper of his land. No motorized howl, no exhaust.

The home Jakob shares with his wife, Susan Swift, is about as intelligently thought out as a dwelling can be. Their approach is sort of a high form of living well, focused mainly on efficiency and environmental sustainability.

Wellness, according to the National Wellness Institute, is “an active process of becoming aware of and making choices toward a more successful existence.” I like that definition. It gives me hope, even if I can’t keep up with the John Plateros of the world.

As a community at large, I’d say Ventura County is doing pretty well too. This issue marks the third anniversary of Ventana magazine. Which, considering the economic rollercoaster of the time period, says a couple of telling things: Local people are still interested in a regional lifestyle publication like this, enough to tune in month after month; and area businesses value that consistent connection with our readers, enough to continue investing hard-earned dollars to advertise with us.

It’s a healthy relationship. Or is it well? Either way, we recognize the importance of everyone involved, including you. Thanks for contributing.


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