Older People And Younger People Are Good For Each Other


From Alfred Lord Tennyson’s poem In Memoriam:27, 1850:

I hold it true, whate’er befall;
I feel it, when I sorrow most;
‘Tis better to have loved and lost
Than never to have loved at all.

From: Chez Ollie

Hi folks,

Recently I had the good fortune to watch my friend Myles, one of my key Ironman supporters, finishing her first triathlon, Swim For Smiles, with a nice solid time. The first one is not so easy, so here she is:

Myles, aged 13, an important member of the author's triathlon support crew, whilst finishing her first triathlon (Swim For Smiles)

This experience got me thinking! Myles and I are at opposite ends of our lives in what I consider to be the Gaussian-shaped pattern of our life experiences, even though the most important experiences in life do not appear to behave in a ‘Gaussian-way’ at all. The latter issue is nicely described in the first book that I bought on my Nook,  ‘The Black Swan’ by Nassim Taleb. In fact, reading this book caused me to modify my retirement investment strategy just a little, to take his ideas into account. Like all investors, I’ll let you know how it goes, if it goes well!

Here is a diagram of the ‘Gaussian-Life’ as I perceive it today (to see the diagram more clearly just click on the image and use the ‘back key’ to return to the post).

Myles (left) and Kevin (right) in their 'Gaussian-Lives'

I call it the Gaussian-Life because things fade in and fade out of our lives with a pattern that resembles the Gaussian probability distribution curve. We go through a kind of ‘gradual up and down process’ for each stage. For me the most obvious example was exhibited by professional interactions over the forty-year period of my scientific career. Early in my career whilst attending scientific meetings I found that I didn’t know any of the speakers or the attendees. As time went by and I published a bunch of papers and gave talks it seemed that I came to know almost everyone, or they would know me at least. Then, starting about 10 years ago I realized that I was acquainted with fewer and fewer members of my scientific societies – essentially I didn’t recognize the younger ones! Finally, whilst giving my last scientific lecture a few weeks ago – with the arcane title ‘Is Biology Really Undergoing A Paradigm Shift?‘ – I had a very non-Gaussian epiphany or paradigm shift myself. I suddenly realized that it was time to go, stop doing this, and get on with the next stage of my life.

I hasten to add that this new stage of my life is not retirement but starting a new business, for which I am returning to my earlier interest in art and drawing. Transitions in life, and in triathlons, aren’t easy, so I am experiencing a mild sense of loss. This feeling, however, is combined with an intense sense of excitement and adventure, mixed with a little fear, which tells me that I am doing the right thing for my mental health. Such changes keep us young, so it is said! I happen to think that this is the case, and I also think that older people hanging out with younger people is good for both of us, which brings me back to my friend Myles (also known as Myzeee!):

While Myles is progressing through early adolescence, I am facing senescence square in the face, and it is written all over my face in the following image from the 2010 Lake Placid Ironman.

The author, aged 67, finishing the Lake Placid Ironman 2010 in the daylight (not easy for my age group!) with a 6.9 cm diameter abdominal aortic aneurysm (little did I know!). Impaired blood flow to my feet cost me the first place age group slot - but Roger deserved it as he went by me at mile 23 of the marathon. Great runner! See you in July, Roger!

That said, I don’t plan to go gently, so my goal is to keep up with my young friends by ‘doing stuff,’ fighting my way to Kona, and saying thank you every day for the life that I have been given. Well done, Myles. You did good (to use the American vernacular!).

OK! Off to ride on my new bike from Victor! What a treat:

Deb with my new Guru from Victor. Great Ride!

Have fun! Myles and I most certainly are.

-k Your Medical Mind

PS Myles is also quite the artist. Here is a lovely picture that Myles painted of my two-legged cat, Becky, just after she died following a long and happy life. We miss Becky a lot, so this picture provides great solace and reminds us of happy times with a wonderful cat! It is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all!


Painting of Becky by Myles. Everyone loved my two-legged cat, Becky, who died at a ripe old age in 12 year-old Nicholas's arms, and we miss her dearly. This painting helps! Thanks Myzeee!!


  1. Duncan Morgan says

    Love this post dad…good stuff.
    Ride with ya Saturday hopefully.

  2. Great Post, Kevin! Gaussian life, an interesting mathematical interpretation from a biologist/pathologist! 🙂 It is very hard for me to see you leaving the field of science, as you have been very inspiring through my journey. But I understand more and more now why this is important to you. And it is great to see you have so much passion doing it. Good luck with the qualification for the Hawaii race and let me know how it goes!

    P.S., Deb looked fabulous in the dress! You are def a lucky man!

  3. Hi Ke!

    Yep! A lucky man indeed, and thanks for your kind comments.



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Disclaimer: As a veterinarian, I do not provide medical advice for human animals. If you undertake or modify an exercise program, consult your medical advisors before doing so. Undertaking activities pursued by the author does not mean that he endorses your undertaking such activities, which is clearly your decision and responsibility. Be careful and sensible, please.