Winston Churchill said “If you are going to go through hell, keep going.” When things get tough for you, when you’re injured, tired, disappointed, devastated. That’s when you have to reach inside and find what it takes to get back on course. The big trick is, don’t stop.
As we age we lose some capacity. We can make it up elsewhere, but there will come a time when you can’t perform at a level you previously could. So does that put you on the bus or leave you in front of the TV? Well, that’s your choice. Nobody stays still forever. There are up spirals, and there are down spirals. The way you become and remain an Xtreme Geezer is embrace the up spirals, break the down spirals. I could just leave it at that, call this post finished. But you might need a few examples.
You’re on a downwind Stand Up Board run. The swells are getting bigger. You drop into one, blow the turn and fall. The board pulls really hard on the leash. You pull it gingerly back against the wind and waves, praying that the strain won’t snap it. You crawl onto the board, breathing hard, stand up and fall again. Now you’re breathing harder. The swells look even bigger. Your breath is coming hard and fast. “What the hell am I doing here”?
Easy for this to go down: Fall a few more times, start paddling on your knees, start thinking about trying to come in somewhere short of your destination. Worry about how far it is. The next time you think about a run, you might decide “I’m kind of over doing those”.
A little harder to go up: Laugh it off. Keep standing and falling until you get rolling. Pick off a few swells and get your mojo back. Enjoy the ride. Stop thinking about when it will end and concentrate on having great rides. Look out well ahead instead of just where you are. Figure out where the fun bumps will be. When you finish you have the satisfaction of a good run, and a memory of the fun.
James Bond is a hero and wins a lot because of one main characteristic–When everything is going bad he gets cooler and calmer. When things are at their worst, he’s at his calm, collected best, looking for all the possibilities. That’s how you stop a downward spiral.
The spirals are not just related to activities. They can be mental, financial, physical–any aspect of your life that limits having an active life and focusing on fun.
You blow your knee out and can’t ski. While your friends are having fun you’re home watching TV. Your general physical condition declines. You start making poor nutrition choices. You get fat. Your girlfriend dumps you. You start drinking too much and when you drink you eat. Physical exercise seems like too much trouble. Active things are “what you used to do before you blew your knee.” They need an extra large casket for your blubber when a heart attack finishes the job a little knee pain started. Far fetched? Unfortunately, not at all.
All you need to see is this video to understand that a blown out knee doesn’t mean you can’t be an xtreme geezer:
The core of the things you do is what you must retain. The thrill of the glide, the challenge of a shot well made, the satisfaction of a great workout. You may have to change the format, but the core–the part that drives you– can be kept. I had a leg swelling problem that limited my bicycle riding. I switched to a recumbent. Shoulder injuries ended my windsurfing–I started longboard surfing, then stand up paddling.
Salvage the core. Choke the down spirals, embrace the upward ones and fight to get full value out of them. Never stop, never surrender.