I never thought I’d be old. When I was 20, 40 seemed very far away. Even at 30, 40 was still far away. I had all the time in the world. But I never thought about. I never planned for the future or thought about the future. After all, I had all the time in the world.
And it’s not so much the number that gets you, it’s the physiological changes that you start to notice. Sure there are a few gray hairs here and there and maybe some worn edges on your face. But you put that in the “character” side, a symbol of pride, you’ve earned that. But it things like realizing that 6 hours of sleep every night really isn’t enough. Or that you must look at the steps when walking downstairs because if you look at anything else your eyes can’t focus fast enough and you miss a step and almost fall. Or that 1981 seems really far away now.
My back and shoulders were hair free until I turned 30. And then one day I woke up covered in hair. It almost felt like it happened overnight. But by that point I didn’t care about much either.
I stepped into the weight room this morning and lifted for the first time in 5 weeks. I expected to be a little weaker than I was then. Instead, I was stronger, much stronger. Stronger than last year. Much stronger. Weights like the shoulder press, which felt impossible a year ago and I could only push 20 pounds at best, suddenly felt easy at 50 pounds. The fly weights were easy at 70, which was once a struggle. Biceps were up to 50 from 20. Triceps at 90 from 40. I would leave a machine and watch the person after me lower the weight.
I’m strong. I haven’t been this strong since I was 18. Since I stopped caring about the future and myself.
I cared about a lot of things my senior year of high school. I had dreams. I had plans. I knew that the people around me were all going to different places. We were all heading our separate ways. So we made the best of our time together. Every moment counted. We didn’t drink. We didn’t party. We didn’t hang out. No we rode, we climbed, we hiked, we ran, we swam. We travelled to the edges of Orange County on steel frames and tennis shoes. We would siphon water out of sprinklers for our water bottles. We went until we were tired and then turned around. Every hill was a challenge, not an obstacle.
Indiana Jones once said “it’s not the years, it’s the mileage.” I still stand by that line. I used to say “the years have not been good to so-and-so.” But it’s not the years that treated us poorly, it’s how we treated the years.
And perhaps the hardest thing about being 40 is that I haven’t been is this kind of shape since I was 18. I should have been in this shape at 30. I should have never stopped caring.
When I’m on a long ride and staring to feel tired, I tell myself “just keep pedaling Andrew, and everything will be fine.”
Never ever stop. If you’re tired, get some sleep, eat some healthy food, and rest a little. But then get up and keep going.
Be good to the years and they shall be good to you. And don’t worry so much about reliving old glories. Make new ones.
11/23/2008 – my next one…