Sunday, March 19, 2017

Older but wiser

My friends and I compare notes.  Runner's knee. An aching hamstring and sore hip.  Tennis elbow.  A mysterious pulled muscle in the back of the shoulder.  We talk about skipping runs for the elliptical, and avoiding certain weight exercises for awhile.  We joke about getting old, but we wouldn't have these aches and pains if we sat on the couch. 

Over twenty-five years ago, Bonnie sat under the visqueen that was keeping our sleeping bags and fire packs semi-dry from the torrential rain that had already put our fire out.  She was talking about why she had taken a job mentoring kids in the Youth Conservation Corps.

"I want them to know that even though I'm thirty, I can still do everything," she said, meaning building trails and fighting fire.  Younger than she was, we nodded solemnly. It made sense. We all knew people who, as the years went by, just decided they were old.  Their backs and knees would inevitably hurt.  They stopped doing things.

Thirty isn't considered old anymore except by some millennials who don't know any better.  And I'm happy to see that there are a lot of people out there like my friends, who are still getting after it.  When I'm picking berries on a certain mountain trail,  there seems to be a steady stream of men in their 60s and 70s running up the steep path to the summit.  Senior citizens chase the vertical at the ski area.  Gray haired hikers are all over the woods.

As a firefighter, I can usually still keep up with the 21 year olds, but I have to be smarter.  Some of these guys can play computer games and eat chips all winter and start running again two weeks before the season starts, but I can't.  I have to keep going.  If they feel a twinge of pain, they push through it, whereas I have to analyze: what's wrong now? maybe I should ride a bike today instead of run.  I pack lighter than they do, preferring to suffer by sleeping a little colder and eating less food rather than packing 55 pounds in my fire pack through the woods along with everything else we have to carry.

So we discuss our aches and pains, but we know we came by them because we're out there running, hiking, and snowboarding.  We're not planning on stopping anytime soon.  So if you see us on the trail, packing bear spray and wearing hiking skirts (except the guys), you better get to stepping, or we'll be passing you.  See you out there!

14 comments:

  1. There are hiking skirts for guys. They're called "adventure kilts." I've seen several.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Many of my hiking buddies are in their 60s and 70s. And they kick my butt every time! Something for me to aspire to.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's one benefit of retirement. Time to do more fun things.

      Delete
  3. Yes! Thanks for this one....as one far past 30, it's really rewarding to do as much as I can as far as I can. Making adjustments to the aches and pains and general "less" is not easy, but so much better than couch-setting and complaining. The natural world is so beautiful and so good at making one feel better!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There's people a lot younger than you couch setting and complaining about how old they are.

      Delete
    2. Got that right....."organ-recitals" are a big thing with some older folks. I try to get as far away from those kind as possible...not sure why they think others find that fascinating!

      Delete
  4. I am so inspired by the older people (and I mean OLD...because I don't consider my mid 40's age to be old!!) who I see out schlepping a pack and hiking mountains and biking scads of miles!!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're not old because then I'd be too! Yes I'm talking about the super seniors out there. There's a lot of them around here.

      Delete
  5. My hair turned white a while ago, but it still kind of surprises me when someone makes a remark about how good it is that an older person is still active and I realize they mean me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh no! They probably say that about me too, but I haven't heard it yet.

      Delete
  6. Now that I'm in my mid-30s (as are most of my friends) are conversations are less about how to party and get crazy, and more about how to stay healthy! Though I wish I had the stamina and ability to recover quickly that I possessed 10 years ago, I wouldn't trade it in for the wisdom of being a little older. We all get better with age!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree! I see my employees in their early 20s and while it would be nice sometimes to eat whatever I wanted, and not have any wrinkles, I still wouldn't want to go back.

      Delete
  7. hmmm, speaking on behalf of little solo, although older, he is not much wiser - there have been times when he has found it challenging to rise to the occasion.

    ReplyDelete

I try to answer all comments, so comment away!