The Wake Up Call of Getting Old

When I was in my thirty-somethings I wondered why old people were falling and getting injured all the time. Why don’t they look where they’re going? I thought. I said to myself I’d never get like that.

Now I have a torn hamstring (sprains heal, tears don’t) from a fall on ice I took a few years ago. It doesn’t stop me from walking, hiking or riding a bike. It makes running impossible, however. I used to be an avid runner, even doing marathons. Even a slow jog is now out of the question because my hamstring torn leg will not work well enough to allow running. I have dupuytrens contracture slowly deforming my hands into the shape of an eagle’s claw. I have arthritis in one little finger and my right wrist.

You might have heard the cliche, “Getting old is not for sissies.” Here is the thing about cliches, they become cliches because they are true and apply pretty equally to everyone.

Everything I’ve written above would have seemed absurd to me about 30 years ago. My resolution never to allow myself to get like most of the old people I knew or saw has not worked out quite like I thought it would. I’m not sorry I made that commitment. It felt good at the time and for a couple of decades after. I’ve always told myself that reality and truth and acceptance of things I cannot control are better than lying to myself. I just thought I’d have more control over the inevitability of getting old. I was going to be the old guy with agilty, balance, coordination, strength and endurance.

I do still work out nearly every day at an athletic facility. My old daily work out used to include a 5-mile run every day. Now I’m lucky if I can complete 30-minutes on the stationary bike at a respectable resistance level. Then a work out with the weights and the resistance machines. It’s over in about an hour, to my great relief.

I always tell the young people I know not to get old. But I also tell them that no matter how old they get, they should always want to get older still.

I do.

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