man: “So what did the doctor say?”
women: “She said that I need to stop running for a few months to let my feet recover.”
man: “I know that’s going to be hard for you to do.”
women: “The doctor suggested that I take-up swimming. She’s a triathlete and that’s what she does.”
man: “How old is your doctor?”
women:“I think she’s in her thirties”
man: “No wonder, wait until she’s 79 like you.”
At this point I jumped into the conversation and said, “I think swimming is great exercise, best of all it doesn’t beat up your body like running. You should consider it as a alternative to running.”
Both of them looked at me like I had just suggested that they take a stroll to the moon. It’s a look I’ve seen before. It says you must be crazy, do you know how old I am and wait until you are my age and some young wiper snapper makes such a crazy comment.
I suppose taking up swimming at the age of 79 is pretty tough. On the other hand I swim with an 80-year-old women who started seriously swimming only a couple years ago. But isn’t that really the other definition of getting old? Not the definition that is measured by years, but the one that is measured by attitude. Don't we all get more conservative as we get older?
I looked up conservative in the dictionary and here’s the definition: “Favoring traditional views and values; tending to oppose change. Moderate and cautious”
I think that we all get conservative as we get older. I’m not talking about the political definition but the personal and emotional one. It becomes much more difficult for us to change our views and try new things. We have a lifetime full of experience, social expectations and emotional scabs that prevents us from taking the plunge into something new.
For instance my young son just took up boogie boarding when we were in Hawaii. We went to the beach, he saw the waves, and the other kids playing in the surf, and he threw himself into the ocean. A few hours later he was riding the waves like an old hand.
But for me it was harder. I knew what those big waves could do if I got it wrong. I didn’t want to look silly out there, and I certainly didn’t want to embarrass myself in front of my family and the locals. I had a lifetime of experience and fear to over come, which I did.
And I’m happy to report that the first big wave picked my up, slapped me around like an angry pimp, pulled off my swim trunks, and spat me out, butt naked, on the shore in front of my family and half the population of the big Island. But I rode the next one….after I quickly pulled up my shorts and washed the sand out of my butt.
My friend Fred likes to say that “Time wounds all heals.” And yes I’m still a bit traumatized from being so forcibly strip searched in front of the entire beach. But I figure my family has seen me naked and hopefully the locals thought I was some misguided German tourist.
I think that’s why I like competing in triathlons so much. It is seriously hard to be personally conservative and be a triathlete. The sport has a way of pulling you out of your comfort zone.
For example, it’s not too much of a stretch to be a collegiate swimmer or runner and compete in a masters level race. You spent your entire childhood on the track or in the pool, so what’s so hard about racing when you turn thirty something?
But with triathlon you don’t have the luxury to just run and swim. You also have to bike. And since the sport is still new there are very few if any thirty something’s triathlete that competed when they were young.
That means that by definition most age-group triathletes picked up the sport, or a least parts of the sport, later in life. And to me that means that we are not personally conservative. Or if you want to flip over the coin and look at the other side, it means we have found the fountain of youth.
Funny thing this search for the fountain of youth. People have been looking for it as long as people have been around. And for just as long other people have been making a living selling youth to those seeking it.
The doctors would have you believe that youth can be restored with a scalpel, and nip here and a tuck there, and a few ounces of silicone placed in the proper locations.
The diet purveyors would like you to believe that you can find youth by only eating meat or vegetables, or fruits that begin with the letter z, or avoiding all carbs on the first, third and seventh leap year, eating only happy fish, or it is sad broccoli?
The cosmetic industry would like you to believe that you can apply youth to your skin by the ounce from a potion made of the bones of the Humuhumunukunuku fish and combined in a sterile lab with seaweed and peanut butter.
The travel gurus want you to know that youth and happiness can be found in the glossy brochures of their packaged holidays to the sun trenched islands of the Bahamas, or the warm Caribbean waters of the Gulf of Mexico.
The mall operators want you to know that youth can be found in the music filled stores and shops in the open and safe shopping arcade.
The ancient Orientals would like you to believe that you can restore your youth and vigor by snacking on a diet of tiger penis, shark fins and rhino horns.
But we know that that’s all a bunch of Madison Avenue magic.
I believe youth can’t be leased, bartered or bought. It’s free for the taking as long as you are willing to take it. And that’s why I really love triathletes and sport of triathlon. We’re a small community of athletes who have taken up the challenge to stay young in both body and mind.
We have shared attitude that life is for living. Given the choice of watching the tiger pass by or taking it by the tail, we choose the tail. And in this struggle, I believe we end up somewhere quite unexpected. We end up at the fountain of youth. (and no it is not in Florida)
OK, so sometimes we end up butt-naked on the beach with sand up our ass but I figure that’s a small price for the fountain of youth.