Sunday, June 2, 2024

As You Age, Try Not to Lose Your Edge

To keep us pressing on, we need people we respect and look up to, people who become not just role models but mentors, people we count on to be there to spur us on. I've got several people like that in my life. I hope you do too. They help us stand taller and reach higher and go deeper and live better. They are often older than we are, but age doesn't seem to have affected them. They defy the old grotesque picture of aging.

If you don't have someone like that in your life, that's regrettable. There is nothing in this life quite like meeting those who, while growing old, continue to grow up, people in whom joy and hope remain strong as they celebrate one birthday after the other.

Next Sunday, Lord willing and if he grants me another week of life, I will turn 72 in Hawaii. Yes, I'm almost three quarters of a century old. But my heart and soul feel like I'm 40. I hope to surf every day. In fact, I don't know about you, but I plan to keep active until I die. I hope to become that old fossil who raises money to build a track around his nursing home where he can run a few laps before a lunch of strained peas and fruit cocktail. I plan to be moving as long as God allows. My advice is that it's essential to really understand your body, to know when something is merely a niggle that will go away in time or when something is the first sign of something going badly wrong. You can't weenie out every time something isn't perfect either. Just as importantly, I make sure to have time for my kids and grandkids so that we all feel connected, valued, and happy. My goal is to run a 5K with my grandkids someday.

I think aging gets a bad rap. It seems to many people that getting older = losing your edge. When you hit the 70s the message is that the best part of your life is over and it's all downhill from there. Getting older is very humbling in some ways but very uplifting in others. I'm more content today than I've ever been. But I still struggle. I like being competitive but that gets harder and harder with age. I am fighting with that dilemma every step of the way. I know that pace and age group placings aren't what's most important in life, but these things keep me motivated. I love running. LOVE. Loss of endurance and speed ... not so much. Acceptance is a process. One thing that helps is strength training. I know how much lifting does for my mental health. So no matter what the activity is, I'll be exercising for the pure joy of what lifting and running and cycling and surfing do for me. 

So look for me out there on race day. I'll be the guy wearing Depends and eating gels made out of strained peas chasing the dude in my age group.