I have a mantra that goes, “Write, Revise, Advertise and Exercise.” Write means to write in my journal or create a story. Revise—to rework an essay, story or novel. Advertise—to get the word out about my website and my latest book Write Now! Exercise—to move my muscles and keep my blood flowing so I won’t be a burden to anyone in old age.
Just the other day a story idea came to me about a 97-year-old man who found out, at the age of 67, the secret to a long, happy life:
Our man is sitting in a YMCA sauna in San Francisco when an old man of 80 named Avram, a man who emigrated from Russia, a man who looks like Buddha because of his bald head and huge bulging stomach, says, “How are you feeling today, my friend?”
“I’ve just gotten over a very bad cold, Avram.”
The old Russian Buddha says, “Whenever I feel weakness or sickness coming to me, I drink a magic elixir. It cure me of all ills.”
Our 67-year-old man is intrigued. “What is this magic elixir you’re talking about?”
“Hot pepper and wodka,” says Avram in his thick Russian accent.
“Did you say hot pepper and water?”
“No, no—I say wodka…wodka.”
“You mean vodka?”
“Yes, yes—wodka. You cut up hot pepper and let it soak in bottle of wodka. You live a long, healthy life if you drink this when not feeling well. It work just like a magic elixir.”
As the years roll by, whenever our man starts feeling weak or sick, he goes to the refrigerator and takes out a bottle of vodka with pieces of hot pepper marinating in it. He pours himself a shot of this magic elixir. It stings when he swallows it, but at the same time he feels it warming his insides and killing any germs it comes in contact with.
Thirty years have passed. Our man is now celebrating his 97th birthday with his entire family. During the festivities, he goes to the refrigerator and pours himself a shot of the magic elixir. Since finding out the secret to a long, healthy life, it’s become a ritual for him on each of his birthdays to toast his long gone Russian friend. He pictures the old Russian sitting in the sauna and a smile comes to his face. He raises his shot glass and says, “Thank you, Avram, for the wonderful advice you gave me,” and he downs the magic elixir. All of a sudden our man collapses and dies—strong and happy to the very end.
For this 67-year-old man, this writer, it’s important for me to “Write, Revise, Advertise and Exercise.” My mantra, like the magic elixir, gives me strength to live and to write.