I’ve spent a lifetime as a flexible person. Really, my hips, thighs, ankles, knees, shoulders, elbows, wrists: all of them were well oiled joints that responded to the tortures I put them through on the volleyball court, the softball field or the rugby pitch. But now, they creak. They are rusted through and through. I have chondromalacia in the one “good” knee that hasn’t needed surgery, and tendonitis in my throwing elbow. Running the bases is torture on my kneecap, and throwing the ball? Forget it. Try doing a simple ab workout…nothing works like it used to. There is nothing like getting old, and trust me, it’s not for sissies. Oscar Wilde was so right about youth being wasted on the young. I beat myself up, and now I’m paying in spades.
Aidan and I did some yardwork the other day, including putting in a new fence, and I was practically on the verge of tears because I hurt so much. Honestly, the worst part was admitting that I couldn’t do the things I once had been able to do. I felt old and used up, and honestly…worthless. But that is a choice. I don’t have to feel that way. I can choose how to reword that. I can put a new face on it. I can start getting to the part my dad was a pro at: I can be a supervisor now. I have nothing to prove except to myself, and the expectations that I talked about the other day don’t have to be lower, but they have to be different. My body doesn’t respond the way I tell it to as often as I’d like it to anymore. That’s okay. I’m 43, I’m not dead. I just have to keep working at living.
I met an old man at Wal-Mart in the birdseed section. I noticed he was taking a really long time to get back into his motorized cart, so I went to help him, but he refused it, and then he told me all about being young—not old. He used his body hard, and he doesn’t regret a single bit of it. Jumping out of airplanes, fighting forest fires, taking risks…all were the things that made him the bright eyed, albeit slow old man on oxygen today. He wants to die after eating a bison steak on a mountaintop, or after he’s had a bit of fun in a whorehouse in Mexico at 103. I can pass on that, but I plan to be 103 when I go too.
And there is hope for flexibility. It’s called drugs. Just kidding. It actually means working through the pain, which is pretty metaphorical for most of things in life. We make choices in our lives that affect everything we do next. It’s often difficult to sift through the material we’re presented to decide if we’ve made a good choice, or if the next one will be just as good. So even though a standing ab workout sucks, and it makes me realize how much I actually hurt (or weigh), it is going to benefit me as I get better at it. Just like anything else, it takes practice, and it means taking risks, and it means getting up and just doing it. Quit making excuses and put your mind over your matter.
Wanted: a good set of sentences to grab you from the depths of the internet. I keep trying to catch your eye.