How old do you feel?
It’s a question I’ve been pondering lately. Over the last couple of years, I have increasingly felt older than my years. Several injuries that have repeatedly interrupted my workout momentum; a bout of anemia with undiagnosed roots; and that sinking feeling I get when I look in the mirror and see everything, well, sinking – have made me feel like my body is breaking down one part at a time. Some days, my miserable memory sends me scuttling to the web to look up “early dementia.” But then I forget what I was Googling, and my thoughts stray aimlessly to whether I took my calcium pill that morning. If the mind is the first thing to go, I’m in deep trouble.
At heart, though, my brain thinks I’m still under 40. The guys who turn my head are at least 10 or 15 years younger. I have a handful of friends – not daughters of friends – who have had babies (some of them first babies) over the last six months. The ones not having babies are in their 50s and running marathons.
I may not be up on the latest bands, and I think twitter is something that should only apply to birds (not angry ones, either), but a good therapist and paying attention have given me a new perspective on issues whose root cause and subsequent effects have eluded me for years. With age comes wisdom, the old saw goes, but wisdom and understanding bring a kind of peace that smooths the rough edges and lightens your outlook. My soul may feel older, but my spirit feels younger.
This morning, I hauled myself out of bed at 4:45, put on long workout pants and two shirts, fished out my gloves, and ran for the first time in – oh, who the hell knows? It’s been a while. I didn’t go fast and I didn’t run far, and I interspersed the run with lots of walking, but I did my three miles with only a minor twinge of pain from my old nemesis, the right hamstring. It was exhilarating, joyous – amazing. I felt awake and alive and energized, and I realized how much I have missed it. The temperature – around 38 degrees – was bracing and perfect. If only for today, I felt, dare I say it, 10 years younger.
Several friends have recently told me that I look great. While I still think my face is too thin and my tummy too flabby, I am uncharacteristically inclined to believe them. But then maybe that’s just the hubris of youth talking.