Monday, January 24, 2011

Rest in Peace Jack Lalanne

Jack Lalanne passed away on Sunday at the age of 96 from complications due to pneumonia.  He was an icon to health, wellness and fitness.  It's only fitting to quote dear Jack Lalanne in my blog on how to stop smoking:

"The only way you can hurt the body is not to use it.
Inactivity is the killer and remember, it's never too late."

Originally, I had written, "it's only fitting to quote dear OLD Jack Lalanne..."  and then I went back an deleted the word "old."  Jack Lalanne was 96 when he passed away but he was anything but old.  "Old" in my opinion is a state of mind.  Nothing more, nothing less.

To show you what I mean, Wikipedia provided me with an excellent example of the youthful mind at work:

In 2004, LaLanne emphatically told an interviewer, "Would you give your dog a cigarette and a doughnut for breakfast every morning? People think nothing of giving themselves that for breakfast, and they wonder why they don't feel good. If asked about sex, he had a standard joke, saying that despite their advanced age, he and his wife still made love almost every night: "Almost on Monday, almost on Tuesday, almost on Wednesday..."

When I was born, Jack was already 58.  Two years later, Jack was shackled, hand cuffed, tied to a boat and tossed in the San Francisco Bay just off the shore of Alcatraz Island.  From there, Jack swam to Fisherman's Wharf...  FOR THE SECOND TIME!  The first time was 10 years earlier.  THAT is what I call being in shape.  Clearly, Jack lived up to his most recent book title, Live Young Forever.

Growing up, I had a few Television experiences that I believe have a certain partial responsibility for my affinity with late 19th and early 20th century pop and physical culture.  One was the 1950's Superman series played in rerun and then there was Jack Lalanne.  I remember watching that show in the mornings on T.V.  The memory is not vivid, but it is present.  When I think back to some of the things that I saw in childhood that stimulated my curiosity for physical culture, Jack Lalanne always comes to mind.

So how did I wind up smoking?  The pull of the past was too strong and Jack got vetoed by Bogart, Dean and Sinatra.  Ironically, I still exercised while smoking.  I lifted weights and ate pretty healthy.  Amazing because if I didn't have exercise I honestly don't know if I would have been able to stop.  Exercise has saved me.  In recent years, exercise and physical culture has kept my head as about as straight as it's gonna get. 

So for me, it came around full circle.  Health, Fitness and Wellness won out over nicotine, tobacco and another old friend named Jack.  Old No. 7, to be exact.  February 19th will mark 4 years sober and in May I'll realize 9 years of being a smoker who doesn't smoke.  Sorry Bogie.  You're cool to the end.  The main problem there is that the end came too soon.

Jack Lalanne and Humphry Bogart are now immortal.  Both their lives can teach us something and both of their deaths can give us lessons to carry with us into our futures.  Both men strong and vibrant.  Both funny, loving and passionate.  Both figures to look up to.  One smoked two packs a day and died way too soon, the other juiced himself to 96.  Camel's or Juice?  Uh....  juice please.

God speed Jack Lalanne.  Thank you.