[ed. note: It has been very quiet here for a couple months. My appologies. No excuses…. perhaps this is an opportunity for me to ‘step up’?]
If you’ve lived long enough to know yourself rather well, to know what your body is capable of (and not capable of), then you may realize when the bones and sinew need more attention than you’re currently offering up. You’ve likely heard some sports commentator suggest that an aging athlete has ‘lost a step’. It wasn’t misplaced. The other guy didn’t steal it. It’s just no longer there.
On the issue of paying attention to your steps and taking care of your body over the long haul so that you keep some semblance of health… it seems to me the costs go up with time. I don’t mean there is inflation, I mean the exercise and effort to maintain a certain level of performance seems to have increased. Working smarter, not harder is good advice. And I’m also a big fan of practice to develop technique. But these older bones of mine are less inclined to go along with the will to do certain physical activities that once were second nature – almost automatic. Healing seems to take longer as well; aches and pains seem to arise at the slightest insult.
I recall my elders, when they were at a similar point in their lives, talking about their aches and pains. I now better appreciate why it became a topic of conversation as common as the weather. Griping about aging and all its foibles doesn’t help turn things back, but I suppose there is a small mental health benefit to it – a temporary cleanse of built up unpleasantness in the cobweb spaces of the brain.
What to do? What is the next step? Redouble efforts at exercise and practice to get that wayward step back? That’s one approach. But then the brain reminds you that you’re going to lose it again in time. No stopping the clock. Learn to deal with it. Easier said than done, but this is where I’ve seemed to settle. Now when various risks to my body present themselves, risk such as walking on an icy surface, working extended hours in the hot sun, working around equipment when tiring… risks that my younger self might have easily ignored… I find myself deliberately searching for sound ways to avoid even the most modest slights to myself. This extra level of attention to such risks also takes a bit more time… still more losing of steps. But if that’s the price I must pay, so be it. Step lively.