My Own Private Fountain of Youth

  I don’t know when it happened, I’m not entirely sure how it happened for that matter, but somewhere along the way my body started to respond to such common things as sleeping or sitting in ways it used to respond to 10-12 hours of playing basketball. On concrete. In boat shoes. 

That’s a lie. The boat shoes part. I usually wore sneakers. The ‘boat shoes’ addendum, well, it was to express how badly my body now responds to, for lack of a better term, living a mild life. This confusion on my bodies part has come to pass while I’m in my early forties. Surely some of the issue is the barbaric battery I committed against my joints as a younger man when I truly would spend hours destroying my body for future use playing basketball on concrete. I prefer, however, to blame my kids. I give them so much, surely they can give me this. Ah, my two precious little excuses are blamed for so much of what it is that I find myself seeking a reason for. 

I also like to think, if it weren’t for them, I wouldn’t be trying to squeeze more meaning out of my life at odd hours and fueling this, well, hobby I guess it is until I get a decent paycheck, with tortilla chips and full frying pan breakfasts in the wee hours of the morning before settling in for a few hours rest. I could be doing all this with a fresh mind, midday if it wren’t for them. The ‘being in my forties’ thing is the reason these behaviors have led me to look like I presently do. Sagging, over big, jowly and grey. These are not complaints. I’m a man and I can pull off ‘distinguished’ if I suck in my gut. The hair helps. For the first time this past week I was forced to pick a color for my hair, a single color, the one most dominant. White. My answer is white. I’m not one to panic over aging and it’s evidentiary expressions. That said, it was a swallow hard moment. 

I’m looking for a way to blame my kids for all of this, but the truth is they keep me young. Like SUPER young. Toddler young. When I’m not contemplating and addressing the various pains of middle age, both physical and emotional, I am filling the spaces with such important and exciting knowledge as this; Peg + Cat has a new movie (hour long episode) premiering on PBS a week from Momday. I know this and look forward to it. Meanwhile I haven’t seen a single nominated movie in the past 6 years. Not one. Not a single second of one.  I hate awards shows, but still, it would have been nice to recognize say one single artist on the commercials for the grammy’s. Seriously, my musical demographic might best be described as ‘nostalgia act.’  There’s no denying that I’ve aged out of whatever ‘demo’ it was I was in when marketers found me relevant. Well, most marketers. There are new companies seeking my attention these days. If there are commercials on a program I’m watching alone, 9 of 10 will be for such things as medications to address what I have to assume is my impending erectile dysfunction or my inability to remain free from incontinence or car companies trying to inspire in me a midlife crisis.  As for the car commercials, jokes on them…. I could NEVER afford a new car! So there!

All of my life these days is me getting more and more accustomed to the the knowledge that I won’t live forever. A fact that is both highlighted and ameliorated (and possibly accelerated, come to think of it) by having toddlers in my forties. I’m evidently not the age that nature intended for me to be when engaged in this task. Woudln’t trade it for anything ever, but your body don’t lie, and while I know certain parts of having little kids is painful for everyone, one rule of life that you should learn now if you don’t already know is that everything hurts more as you get older. Thankfully you get tougher at roughly the same rate, but it still hurts. 

I’ve lost a certain visceral feeling I had when I was young. I could jump off things, high things, and land gracefully. I could run. I never had great wind, but put me on a court and I could go all day. You could always rest on defense, right! I was downright artistic too. I could positively dance with a basketball. I’m not talking about anything in context, I’m saying subjectively, internally, it was joyous. I was good enough to get close to truly great players, several pros, and each and every time I was made more aware that their fate wasn’t mine. It didn’t matter. It’s a joyous thing to fully exert, to know you won’t get hurt, to play and play and play and never think of tomorrow. To eat 50 chicken wings and then go out and play for hours right after. From this angle, even without the ‘joy’ considered, it all seems fairly miraculous. 

My kids are starting to show this type of ability and it’s a sight to see. I try, I work out several times a week. I do cardio and weights. But the body doesn’t respond like it used to. Like it feels like it still should. I’ll keep at it as I need to live a good long time now that I have kids I need to be around forever for, but I’ll never be that graceful young man again. 

Thankfully, I’ve found one way in which I still can be that nimble, clever, energetic self I lost along the way. I’ve found it in an endeavour that is only helped by my advancing years and compiled experience and ever expanding, though still quite nascent wisdom. That magical fountain of youth for me it turns out is writing. An endeavor in which this classic sitter’s body that I’ve developed over the years doesn’t in any way restrict me from excelling at. 

While sitting at the keyboard all the experiences that I can recall from as far back as I can remember, incorporating my own life and the lives of all those I’ve known, only help to make me more able, more artful and better at what I’m doing. It’s been a delight to find that there are consistently 50-150 people that will be interested in reading what I have to say and if it’s good a fair amount of them will tell me they enjoyed it. On several ocassions people have even reached out to me to thank me for what I’ve written for any number of reasons. It’s great to have found this thing that I had to get all the way here to truly be able to access. In life the pile of things we can no longer do eventually overtakes and passes the pile of things we can do. It’s inevitable. I’m watching the opposite exchange occur for my kids as they emerge and become ever more able. I’m over that hill as it were returning my abilities to the pile for others to pick up. So to have found a thing I couldn’t have done before and to pull it over to the pile of things I can do now, well, it’s like I’ve discovered a tiny little fountain of youth. I’m pretty happy about that. 

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