Saturday, July 22, 2006

Having it
Both Ways (The schizophrenia of aging)

I don't want to be a kid for ever (although I am well on my way). I don't want to have to relive those hard lessons and times of emotional upheaval (not to mention acne). I've paid my dues, and I am convinced that this is the best time in life.

Still, I find I am not entirely consistant in my attitude and behavior when it comes to getting old.

I accept the years and the gray hairs when I am giving a lecture, offering an opinion or teaching kayaking. I get the impression that everyone (everyone younger than me, that is) assumes I know more than I do. It is almost like a base on balls. People (especially young ladies who, perhaps, find me "safer". but I digress) treat me differently (read: nicer) and often with defference. All this I gladly accept.

On the other hand, I often hide my age (especially among kayakers) for fear that others will not feel safe with me or that I will not be able to hold up my end in a rescue. Suddenly, I don't want to be this old and choose to play young.

Then there are the times that I find myself hiding behind the age label and looking for "special boy" treatment. This, in fact, came up for me up at Grand Marais when I was one of a class of instructors taking an advanced rescue-scenario class.

The instructor (John Martin, excellent) decided that lunch would be held atop a high cement wall that served as part of a break water at the entrance to the harbor. He also indicated that our kayaks were to join us up top for the break. No way, I thought. Hell, doesn't he know how old I am? Doesn't he know about the weakness in my left leg? Is he trying to get me killed? This stuff is okay for you young guys.

Well, no way turned into way. I made my concerns noted to the group and got a reply of, "So, what needs to happen?"

Well, I can't be the first up because of my strength and inability to climb with a weakened leg. And, I can't be the last since the leg makes it hard to balance while standing up in the boat. No prob. I went second or third...I forget which. The tallest and strongest went first. then, with Henry stabalizing my boat, I stood, climbed onto my deck and reached up to the strong hand that was being offered. I took two "steps" on the wall and was on top. Hauling up the boats was child's play.

So, I continue to adjust to the abilities the years have forgotten to take from me, and I continue to learn to use what I have. Most of all, I continue to ask for what I need and to be surprised how quickly the universe is willing to supply it.

Meanwhile Zoe (daughter of our friends), play while you can.

And, when you do get your first kayak....

Paddle safe

DS

5 comments:

Michael said...

Hi Dick,

This is my first visit to your site. Thoroughly enjoyable! The story of the old man coming down from the mountain during the battle was inspirational to say the least. I wish he was in Lebanon as I write this. What another mess...

Cheers!

Silbs said...

Thanks, Michael, and welcome to my nutty world where just being alive is fun. From the pic withyour profile, looks like you are on big water.

JohnB said...

The wise amongst us know our limits and are willing to express them to others. The foolish also know their limits, but keep them a secret. The latter makes us all weak, while the former strengthens us.

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