In a letter he wrote in 1789, Benjamin Franklin said, “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”
Even if the quip was made tongue-in-cheek, Ben was on the mark with that. But perhaps it could also be said that as long as we haven’t succumbed to the first of those two certainties, there is another thing we can be sure of: the negative effects of aging.
After all, as long as we live, we get older, and a body getting older isn’t synonymous with a body getting better.
At least as far as I can tell.
Lately, I’ve been coming to grips with that reality more and more. That’s in no small part due to sustaining a pretty major – and highly annoying – shoulder injury that resulted from, well, I’m not 100-percent sure what. But while I’m not positive what caused my shoulder to suddenly become the focus of my existence, I’m convinced it wasn’t something that would have injured the version of me I lived with most of my life.
In fact, for most of my life, I don’t recall spending much time at all considering how physically taxing an activity might be or how my body might react to it. If something seemed like fun or needed to be done, I pretty much just did it.
But where I am now, it’s like every situation involving potential physicality becomes a math problem. Rather than just diving in, I ponder the benefits of the end result, weigh that against what level of bodily harm or discomfort might be encountered on the way, and base my decision to begin on the solution to the equation.
When I was younger, I didn’t really have to think about avoiding physical exertion. I was a lanky ribbon of sinewy energy that was always ready to be unleashed upon any form of exercise.
But now I’m more like a flimsy strip of moist sponge that can’t help but consider – and limit – episodes of physical expenditure. I have no choice in the matter; even if my brain was overcome by delusion to the point that it tried to convince my body to do things the way I used to, it would fail. My body wouldn’t go there – because it can’t.
While I haven’t waved the white flag just yet, I can tell the effects of age are winning, and it’s only a matter of time until the victory is complete.
My shoulder is a good example. I’ve seen lots of improvement in it, but it has taken quite a while to get to that point. Longer than it would have before all my aging.
That’s a bit of a hard pill to swallow for a guy who used to take the chair lift to the 7000-foot level, and then hike a mile to 8000-feet in order to ski the “back bowls.”
It’s kind of weird to think that during my high school basketball days, it wasn’t unusual for my coach to just leave me in as long as I stayed out of foul trouble. Now I’d probably commit a few extra fouls on purpose in order to get some seat time.
Yep, I guess there comes a time when age catches up with us. In fact, there comes a time when age changes almost everything – even things we’ve always taken for granted.
I never used to wear belts. Now I have to rely on one to keep my pants squeezed to my expanded gut line.
I used to always see the final play of a night game on TV. Now I go to bed without caring about missing the second half.
I used to keep our property pretty well manicured. Now I’m OK with letting a few more weeds grow big around the perimeter.
Nope, things just aren’t the same when the body starts to “go.” Which seems to me to be somewhat of a contradiction in terms, because the body I’m using doesn’t “go” like it once did.
I think I once heard a TV wife say to her husband, “You’re definitely not as young as I used to be.”
I can relate.
Doug Davison is a writer, photographer, copy editor and advertising representative for the Houston Herald. Past versions of his column can be seen on the blog page at http://www.houstonherald.com. Email: email@example.com.