It’s All a Matter of Perspective

Updated on February 15, 2020

By Debra Baadilla

What is the secret to living a life filled with health, happiness and adventure for a man that’s 96 years young?  Read on to find out.


Joe Pena on Hwy. 60 between Globe and Show Low, AZ

At the age of 96, my father, Joe Pena, says it’s all about the perspective you take on life, and you’re as youthful as you feel!  Here’s how his philosophy has helped him to live a productive, healthy, and happy life. He grew up during the depression era in the State of New Mexico.  His father worked for the railroad for half the week and was a sharecropper for the rest of the week. This helped his family survive during that era, but Joe learned to work hard, attending school and after school assisting with sharecropping from the tender age of 5.

When he was 18, he was one of the many brave men that enlisted with the Army Air Corps the day after the attack on Pearl Harbor.   He left New Mexico 3 weeks later and was shipped out to Australia. He became a tailgunner on a B-24 bomber. He served primarily in the Pacific Islands from 3/42 – 8/45.  The B-24 that he crewed on carried out 42 missions, 2 crash landings (one in the ocean and the other as a belly landing).

When he was discharged, he settled in Los Angeles and married.  He and my mother raised 4 children (3 daughters and 1 son) and remained married for almost 60 years until her death in 2005.

When his son, Tony, was 15 years old, Joe bought two motorcycles so that they could go dirt riding together.  They developed a passion for motorcycle riding and started riding every Sunday. They graduated to motocross racing, and he became known as “Smokin’ Joe”, and their friends started joining them in their weekly racing.  When Tony became an adult, they bought street motorcycles, including a Yamaha and 2 Kawasakis. Joe has owned numerous on and off road motorcycles (“dirt bikes”), including a CZ and a Montesa.  

He currently plans 4 to 7 day motorcycle trips with his son that cover the most beautiful, out of the way places in Arizona, Utah, Idaho, and Montana that usually include 8 to 10 people in the ride.    Joe rides his 2017 Indian motorcycle that he recently converted to a trike, with Karen, his wife, always riding behind him. His trips usually cover about 1,000 to 1,200 miles. 

Joe says as long as you keep active, rest,  follow doctors’ orders, and eat healthy (as Karen always ensures that he follows his daily regiment), you can live a long and happy life.  Joe feels a person’s personal perspective on life directly relates to their continued health and longevity, barring circumstances beyond their control.   For his next ride he is planning on riding to Canada on his trike for an extended vacation.

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His attitude is that he will never give up living life to its fullest.   So, this is why he always says, “Its all about your perspective on life!”

About the author, Debra Baadilla:  Debbie is a National Board certified teacher as well as being an adult instructor at the college level. 

She is has written numerous articles relating to children and adult’s lives and emotions. She loves to travel and has gained different perspectives based upon her travels to more than 37 countries.


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