I am not turning 80. I am heading straight at it, with no brakes, no reverse, and the accelerator is floored!
I have concluded that life is like a roll of toilet paper. The closer I get to the end, the faster it goes. Worse yet, the last few sheets are so flimsy and full of holes that it takes more of them to get the job done.
Some of the pleasures in life have lost their allure too. Sex has become pointless, I no longer get a high from hiking in the mountains and owning a Ferrari is off my list of lifetime goals. Mother Nature seems to recognize the problem, and has substituted other biological functions to give me pleasure and relaxation. If I am thinking about any subject…politics, the environment, or even the last movement of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, my mind eventually gets around to other movements that aren’t very musical…unless you like the sound of a foghorn.
I don’t know how an 80-year-old is supposed to feel, but I feel pretty good most of the time; except in the morning. Getting the old carcass in motion, is a struggle. Every moving part creaks and groans. A mug of strong coffee helps to get things moving…in more ways than one. (See what I mean about movements?) By the time I finish breakfast, I am ready to slay dragons, although the dragons need to be a little smaller than they were a few years ago, and I no longer take on the fire-breathers.
Speaking of smaller, I have noticed that people seem to be getting taller. Friends whom I used to tower over now look me straight in the eye. I have never been ramrod-straight. My mother constantly implored me to “Stand up straight! Stand up straight!” Now I find that I am starting to resemble that tower in Pisa. Maybe this is just nature’s way of doing a little risk management by reducing the distance I have to fall. I have noticed that my sense of balance has deteriorated in the last few years.
For more than fifty years, I have been working out regularly at gyms and fitness centers. During that time, I have enjoyed generally good health and I think my daily workouts have contributed to my positive outlook on life. Therefore, it is with some frustration that I have noticed recently that my body has cunningly contrived to conceal all evidence of my superb physical condition. Consequently, the most challenging exercise I perform at the gym these days is more mental than physical; overcoming the almost irresistible urge to glance at my reflection in the full-length mirror that has been deliberately placed, with cruel and malicious intent, directly in my path on the way to the shower.
Despite my fine physical condition, I realize that the body is showing its age. If it were a car, I would have traded it in for a new one years ago. Since that is not possible, I have entered the period of high maintenance that is common with older cars and older bodies. Both will continue to run for a long time if they are given proper care and maintenance. Instead of oil changes, I have found that a few glasses of wine every day keep things running smoothly. I have also done some major repairs, including cataract surgery and dental renovation. That’s like replacing headlights and a dented front grill. Like the shocks and U-joints in a car, knees and ankles get worn and wobbly, sometimes needing repair or replacement. So far mine are still limping along, but they have a lot of miles on them.
A common belief about old people is that we can’t remember anything. In my case it is certainly not true that I my memory is failing as I age. Suzanne has been telling me for at least fifty years that my memory is failing, so it is not something that is caused because I am approaching the big eight-oh. My explanation for this is very simple. I worked in a high-tech job that required me to have a vast array of facts at my immediate recall. So, I simply didn’t have room for all the trivia that she retains. She can tell me what I had for dinner at a dinner that I can’t even remember and if pressed, she could probably dig back in her mental archives and come up with a list of our dinner companions, what they ate, what shirt I was wearing and the color of each of my mismatched socks. I don’t consider it a failure of my memory to have forgotten all that stuff. My brain just sorts through and decides what is important and discards the rest. When I can’t remember a word, it’s because I have so many of them in there that it takes a long time to look through them all. The reason that I now start sentences and then can’t remember what I was going to say is because my mind is occupied with so many really important things.
That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.