Nine years ago when I first met Uncle Ho at the shed 700 steps up on the hill, he told me he was eighty something. He looked eighty-odd year old then and I believed him.
When I asked about his age a few days ago, he was still eighty-odd years old. I studied his face meticulously and found that he still looked eighty-odd. It seems that the nine years have passed without leaving any trace in his appearance.
I asked other hikers. Some of them said that Uncle Ho told them he was born in the 1910s. I then asked Uncle Ho whether he was really born in the 1910s. He said yes. I said, “You must at least be ninety-two. Even if you were born in 1919, the last year of the 1910s, you must be ninety-two now. In what year were you actually born?”
“I prefer ceasing calculation of my age. I have long passed the normal age of death and shall enjoy the days I am still alive and healthy. Why shall I calculate my age everyday to remind me that death is coming increasingly closer. For me age is a meaningless figure. What counts is whether I am still healthy and happy.”
Uncle Ho comes to the shed often to make tea, provide it for hikers free of charge and sweep the steps. He walks only 700 steps up to the shed and never goes to the peak 1,500 steps up to keep fit like all the other hikers. I exercise earnestly every other day climbing up more than 2,100 steps as fast as I can for good health and longevity, but he spends most of the time chatting and joking with hikers who sit in the shed to enjoy the tea. They say the tea made with stream water tastes especially good, but I do not know the difference. Perhaps, I am no connoisseur.
I work hard to keep fit, but he climbs only 700 steps without effort and just enjoys the chatting and joking. However, I do not think I will live longer than him. What is his secret of longevity? I do not know. The stream water? The moderate exercise everyday? Or being always happy to enjoy life, chatting and joking?