There’s a certain age you reach when you start understanding your mortality. When you’re young, everything seems so fleeting. You can break a bone, recover from it, and then go on as if nothing ever happened. Then comes that cold rainy day later on in life where suddenly parts of your body hurt. Then comes the recognition that the parts of your body that hurt are the parts you hurt when you were younger.
I once broke my right hand long time ago in a fight. It was a badge of honor back then. It was the punch that ended the fight. The problem is, that fight happened decades ago. Now, my sore and swollen hand reminds me of the fight, but there’s no honor in the pain. Just pain.
I get the same pain in my neck, my feet, my hips, my back, my knees, my shoulders, and my elbows. It’s easy to write off the pain as something like arthritis, but each of those pains are areas where I hurt myself in the distant past. It’s like I’m finally paying on the layaway plan I structured years ago. The worst part is when I oversleep. Instead of being fully rested, everything hurts a little more from the rest.
It doesn’t help that I live in the Pacific Northwest where it rains most of the winter and the temperatures hover between 30 and 45 degrees. The dampness seems to make the hurts cry out a little more. I’m starting to understand “snowbirds.” They live up north in the summer and live down south in the winter. I get it now.
I mentioned in an earlier blog post that I picked up a job at a casino as a slot attendant. This easy job allows me to walk a lot…a whole lot…and I believe it keeps me from stiffening up and becoming a limper when I walk. The exercise is good for me and because it’s at a job, I can’t make excuses to skip an exercise. I show up no matter how sore I feel and generally begin to feel better as the day goes on…at least until the end of my shift when the soreness returns. Then I hobble back to my Jeep and drive stiffly home.
When I was young, I was invincible. I was immortal. I could do anything. I laughed off bruises and wore casts over broken bones like they were medals awarded for bravery. I knew I would recover and go on being reckless because that was my mindset. I was invincible. I was immortal. I could do anything.
Nowadays, I slow down when I step off a curb. I lift things consciously with my legs instead of my back. I understand that any exertion might need to be paid for with pain later. I am aware of every injury from my past. I not too long ago threw out my back by twisting slightly when I was writing on a chalkboard. I feel excruciating pain when I open a jar. I take twice the time getting up when I do something on my knees. If I sit on a chair too long, I actually groan when I get up. If I stand too long, I actually groan when I sit down.
Even though I’m only 58 years old, I now realize that I am NOT invincible. I am NOT immortal. I CANNOT do anything I want to anymore. I am getting older…