I Keep Muttering, ‘I’m Too Old for This’June 11th, 2010 by Ric Hallock
“Oh, dear sweet Mother Mary and Joseph, not again!”
Would that my knees, ankles, shins, feet, thighs, elbows, shoulders, biceps and back could all but speak — that would be their collective lament. What could possibly have my body wailing in protest so loud you can actually hear it?
One word: softball.
Funny — looking at the word sitting there so smugly and cuddly looking on the screen — one wouldn’t think a word containing “soft” and “ball” (even babies and puppies love to play with a ball) could also entertain such thoughts as pulled muscles, bruised bones, torn tendons and lacerated ligaments.
OK, for the sake of full disclosure, I’ve only suffered about half of the above — but really, isn’t that enough?
Last season it seemed I injured some new muscle set hitherto unknown to me before playing each game. And unlike the days of youth, instead of taking a day to recover — it took me the better part of the week to be able to walk like a normal human once more — just in time for the next game and a whole new series of painful lessons. Good thing we didn’t practice during the week or I’d have been unable to muster the strength to make it to a game at all.
I attended the first practice of the new Gig Harbor Church Softball League season last night and afterward I walked and moved something akin to Abe Vigoda playing the role of Frankenstein — after aging another decade. My ever supportive bride scoffed at my slow shuffle from room to room, saying “it was just a practice.” My young son — who just wrapped up his Little League baseball season — just delighted in counting my errors.
Hmph. No respect for the old man. And I place the emphasis on “old.”
Without giving it away, let’s just say I’m fast approaching a milestone bithday and really only have one more on the horizon before I settle into the sunset years.
It’s been a long, tough battle between mind and body — but lately I’ve found the arguments being put forth by my aging frame to hold sway. For years, I fought the notion that I could no longer move like I did when I was 20. I could see it in my mind, so surely I could manifest it in my body. And the mind will play tricks on you — working in tandem with your body to make you believe you still have the grace and speed of a carefree youth — despite the decades of working a job where the only muscle action is to reposition my butt in the chair to keep from creating a permanent cushion indentation.
Like the Kübler-Ross model of the five stages of grief, I went through the usual litany: Denial (I’m every bit as strong and agile as I was 10 years ago, 20 years, 30 …); Anger (#@&*! I know I’m as strong and agile as I was 20 years ago, etc.); Bargaining (please, please, please I’ll give up Dr. Pepper forever if I can only throw the ball from second to first without bouncing it); to Depression (OK, so I bounce the ball to first, but at least it gets there).
And now I’ve hit the final stage: acceptance. My days of running between the bases without something snapping, popping or tearing are over.
It’s been a difficult battle, but the body has won out. I concede. The white flag is flying. But what my body doesn’t realize is that my mind is only conceding the battle — not the war. Sure, I’ll admit it — I can no longer play the game as I did in my youth. But I will not give up trying to play. Ha!
That is, at least until this Sunday, when we open the season with a double-header. I may be singing an entirely new tune by Sunday night.