For anyone that has been around me long enough, you know how I feel about getting old. It’s bullshit.
Not so much the physical aging. That I have accepted. It is inevitable. It is how we feel about it. React to it. And most ashamedly… try desperately to put it off in our later years by “taking care of ourselves”… that’s the bullshit.
My philosophy is simple. I want people to walk up to my coffin, look inside and say “WHOA… He wore that bone bag out!” “He’s glad he’s gone because his body didn’t have much left to give!”
It’s just like with money. You CAN’T TAKE IT WITH YOU! If I get to my coffin and people look inside and say “He looks so good… so peaceful…”, then I screwed up.
Now granted, I don’t want bones sticking out from some fantastically fatal Parkour accident off the 6th floor of the parking structure downtown… but I wouldn’t mind…
Sorry to be so morbid… and I’m really not trying to be. This is my philosophy for LIVING. I know that sounds crazy, but it’s just the way I am. I like to take physical risks. I don’t mind getting hurt. You can’t be scared of life or you will never do anything. Living CAUSES death. The only thing you have control of is the style points you get along the way. They usually come in the form of scars… or tattoos… or REALLY great stories (that DON’T start with “One day while I was having a salad”…).
I used to be an even greater risk taker. But the first time I held my son in my arms, things changed. I stopped my dreams of having a Harley. I gave up on being a police officer. But I didn’t give up on living. Everybody who has read this blog knows the gyrations my life has taken. Thank the gods that the only right decision I ever made was to marry THE most patient and tolerant woman in the world. Who, on frequent occasion, just shakes her head at me (and hands me the family fun sized bottle of Tylenol) because she knows that is just who I am.
I LIKE to push myself. I LIKE to come out of a particularly hairy section of a mountain biking trail or some other crazy endeavor and think to myself… MAN! I shoulda died right then! I LIKE the feeling of being so totally spent by a workout that all I want to do is breathe… I need that.
How do you balance that with your own personal, physical limits?
I mean… I WANT to run a marathon again. I WANT to do an Ironman full distance race someday. I WANT to do a long mountain bike race (Leadville) or Ultra (Leadville). But recent events have proven this to be most likely unattainable, simply because of my own physical limits. I may WANT to do these things… But currently, I physically CAN’T. And remember that aging thing I talked about? …yeah. That. It’s creeping up.
This is where reality hits. Where RESPONSIBILITY hits. I have a family who depend on me for support. Killing myself trying to do some crazy distance or event is just stupid. And after Red Man I really think anything longer would, literally, kill me. Or at least be so detrimental that I couldn’t support my family. And something else everyone who knows me is aware of is that family comes first. The bottom line is that I have to be ready to answer the bell on Monday morning. EVERY Monday morning.
So how do I balance out my need to be responsible with my need to be irresponsible…
First. I need to correct that sentence. How do I balance out my “need” to be responsible with my “WANT” to be irresponsible.
Is it possible to still get style points while “toning it down”? Can I get that “totally spent” feeling from a 5K? What can I do to maintain the “challenge” but still stare down reality?
I really don’t know. I have more questions than answers.
I do know this, though. I will continue to push myself. Within my newly defined limits, of course. But I will push. Faster. More intense. New challenges. Combinations I haven’t tried before. I’m not going to stop living because I have hit my physical limits. I’m just going to live a little bit more intensely inside those limits for a while. Occasionally popping out to measure myself against a greater goal, but mostly inside the boundaries of reality.
Today’s quote defines one of my greatest fears in life… regret.
It’s better to look back on life and say ‘I can’t believe I did that” than say: “I wish I had done that”.