The broad outline of Bill Bruns’ life doesn’t describe a radical adventurer. Bill worked as a postal carrier and invested his supplemental income in rental properties until he became retirement eligible. lives in a tidy one-bedroom condominium overlooking a golf course in Long Beach. Bill’s had two long-term boyfriends, but mostly he’s been single. A few times a year Bill vacation trades his desirable condo with someone from another exotic locale. That’s how he’s stayed all over Europe and Asia for free. Bill began playing tennis in high school and at age 58, he still plays every day. Tennis and travel describe his life.
There are two hiccups to this prudent tale. First: how we met. Bill contacted me online several years ago and proved interesting enough to maintain a long distance cyber relationship. He has other virtual friends who, like me, turned into real friends when the opportunity to meet in person arrived.
Second, Bill changed his tennis game. This may not seem major to the rest of us, but for a man to change his playing style after over forty years is radical. At 55, Bill took a lesson from tennis pro Kirk Wilson. “This guy explained how to place a post and exactly how to raise an elbow like I’d never heard before.” Bill decided to abandon everything he knew and study under Kirk, a process that involved physics and psychology. “When you play a match, everything you need to know is on the other side of the net.”
For a year or more, Bill’s game slipped. “My friends all thought I was crazy to change my game at my age.” But Bill’s changes have made real improvements. “I used to beat one of my regular partners 6-4. Now I beat him 6-0. I know my game is even going to get better.”
I am a lousy tennis player. But I am big fan of people who are never to old to reach out and meet new people, and take the risk to change their game.
How will we live tomorrow?
“I have bits and pieces of things.
“It worries me that we have become so germ conscious. Our ancestors developed immunity because they could stand up to things. Now we have a generation who sanitizes its hands. I worry we are growing weaker when for years we had been growing stronger.
“I worry about exercise. Are we going to become blobs? Will we not need our bodies anymore?
“I worry about the earth. We are putting stuff in it that’s not natural: nuclear waste, carcinogens.
“Corporations are becoming the bane of society. They are creating a really bad world.
“I am happy that almost all people are good. In my travels I meet all kinds of people, and they are all good. The hope lies there.”