The Road Ahead

Because I’m in earshot of 70 years old (3 years away), and I just got Nordic Skis and have been out on them ten times in the six weeks I’ve had them, I’m concerned about the future. Nordic skiing makes me happy. It always has, but I have not always lived where I could easily find snow and I have — for the biggest part of a decade — been dealing with debilitating arthritis in my hips.

There’s nothing else I really want to do, honestly. As time has peeled away aspirations and goals, I stand here with only a couple of things that matter to me. I want to be able to *langlauf. I want to be able to hike in the mountains (because there is not always snow). I want to be able to do these things for a long time.

I already know what bad stuff can happen. I had my first hip surgery when I was 54. My second in 2018, at 66.

How does this happen? I always loved those things. Why did so much get in the way? Why didn’t I see as clearly long ago? No idea. But what matters is doing whatever I can to be able to keep going.

I did some research — tried to do some research — on how best to keep going as long as possible. The short answer is weight training. The long answer? Well, it’s long, OK?

I found a lot of articles written by young people about old athletes. There was no escaping that the whole idea of a geriatric runner or something else is kind of a freak show. This is strange, because I know people who are still running, hiking, and skiing well into their 70s. They don’t see themselves as a freak show and neither do I. It seems that some of the younger people looking at us have forgotten (or don’t know?) that it’s FUN to ski, it’s fun to race, it’s fun to hike. Sure, maybe not for everyone, but who would expect it to be? In all my years hiking, I was most often completely alone (in an urban wilderness park).

One article I read was a review of a photo book with an interview — Racing Age by Angela Jimenez. In this book, a former college decathlete documents several elderly track and field competitors. Jimenez goal is to blast the stereotypes of old folks, stereotypes that old folks — that is to say we are,

“…sick or vulnerable or kind of cute—I had seen those jokey greeting cards of a grandmother lifting a barbell or something—and I felt, as someone who was just starting to think about age myself, a sense of rebellion against that,” says Jimenez. “That’s something I’m always interested in doing with photography—countering visual stereotypes and thinking about how is a group of people being depicted in a simplistic way and what could I do to explore that.”

The photos included in the article are great. The photographer seems like an intriguing person. These athletes are completely engaged in their sports as any real athlete would be.

The sub-heading of the article says,

“The new photography book ‘Racing Age reminds us that it’s a whole lot of fun to be a competitive athlete for life.”

For me, that’s the whole thing. I don’t want to compete, I just want to play.

*Langlauf — German for Nordic skiing

20 thoughts on “The Road Ahead

  1. I’ve been thinking about weight-training. It is good for you. You don’t have to look like Arnie, but having some strength to hold all those bones and joints in place has to be a good thing. But I can’t see myself going to a gym. I need a home based alternative. Still only thinking about it though. Time is running out.

  2. Do what you love!! No matter the age it’s the heart that matters. Do everything you possibly can that makes you happy. That’s living. I envy your mountain hikes. I’ve hiked a few times but I just moved to New Mexico and the mountains are so enticing and I can’t wait to hike.

      • That’s awesome! I’m definitely looking forward to snow boarding and hiking and the wildlife. I could sit back and stare at the mountains for hours. They are just majestic and serene. Peaceful unlike all the craziness in the world.

        • Mountains are the truth, which might sound weird, but they are just doing their mountain thing all the time reminding us of important stuff. I love them.

  3. We just got invitations to the college radio station’s 65th anniversary. They are giving a discount to students, but not to seniors. Garry says maybe he’s paranoid, but he’s pretty sure they are not interested in us. They don’t think we’re going to make the donations they want and besides — we are OLD.

    I often think that young people think they will always be 22. They can’t even imagine that time will have its way with them, assuming they don’t die before they get there. I don’t ski, but I started taking pictures when I was 21 and I’m still taking them. I started writing when I was around 10 and I’m still writing. Even my cardiologist laughed when he asked me what “I used to do before I retired” and I said “writer.” He said, “Writers don’t stop writing.”

    “True,” I said, “but we do stop getting paid.” And everybody laughed.

    The two things I loved doing which I can’t do anymore are ride and play the piano. I miss them. Otherwise – I do all the rest of what I did. I do it because it’s fun and until I can’t do it anymore, I will.

    • Garry’s right. They want donations. And I never thought of growing old until my first hip went south and suddenly I was 85. I think it’s meant to be that way. Young people don’t have — and shouldn’t have — the emotional maturity to deal with this. 🙂

  4. Imam always reading about the examples of the Amazon generations that can do it, but have come to the conclusion they are more the exceptions than the rule, that’s why people write about them. So let’s just do what we can and forget the exceptions.

  5. I hear you. I don’t have a problem with my age except when it comes to the attitude of other people. I don’t look my age (61) and when I tell someone, their whole attitude towards me changes. Example: I have a horse and ride the trails. Last summer, I changed barns and a few months later, in passing conversation, the barn owner asked how old I was. When I told him, his eyes went wide and he said, “Oh, I thought you were younger than that.” Flattering? Yes, but on our next trail ride the young lady in the lead started on a long canter. At one point, the barn owner, who was behind us, yelled out “Stop! Not everyone on this ride is your age.” I know he meant well, but we had all ridden together before and nothing like this had ever happened. I was not impressed.

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