Days of My Youth

This past Thursday I celebrated another lap around the sun, entering my early 40s…41 to be exact. As has been the case most of my life, I don’t feel like my official age. That is not to say I am running around trying to act an age from year’s gone by (Wooderson). Rather, I’ve never taken myself serious enough or felt the weight we place on arbitrary milestones of existence. As captured in a saying my brother and I share “You are only as old as you act”. It is a bit of the inverse of what your parents or perhaps a significant other might advise you to do, which is to act your age. If you act old, you are old. I’m not suggesting the fountain of youth is found in the bottom of a beer glass at 3am on a Wednesday night, but if you find yourself reading the fine print on your retirement portfolio in bed at 8pm on a Saturday, you might want to do some life assessment.

Yes there are the inevitable signs of aging that can’t be ignored or avoided. The ground seems to be harder when I crash these days and injuries tend to linger longer than they used to. I’ve also had to change certain behaviors such as consuming post-ride pop-tarts smothered in peanut butter and increase the miles-per-beer justification ratio.  I would also throw in there the struggle of maintaining relevant fashion sense, but that implies one had any to begin with. Plus jeans and t-shirts are pretty timeless aren’t they?

 It is my hypothesis that the best way to out run the age monster is to not take yourself too seriously, and just keep going. Sure you might not be as fast as you used to or are able to go as far, but avoiding the gravitational pull of couch time is crucial. Some of the people I admire most and look to as examples are still getting after it running marathons, skiing, and mountain biking. All the while never taking themselves too serious, with a smile on their face and a mischievous glint in their eye. A few years back Yeti produced a story about rafting and skiing guide John Shocklee now in his 50s and still living a life based around the outdoors. Like many of his profession, John leads a simple life in Silverton Colorado opting for the experience of the outdoors over more superficial trappings. I’ve shown the story to multiple people who respond to my “when I grow up” admiration with looks of confusion and perhaps disbelief. What they often miss though is the vibrancy that comes with bucking social age norms and continuing to get after it. So while I might be racing in the masters category these days it is usually in a Hawaiian shirt and a smile.   

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