Why do I run? Why do I sail? Why do I blog?
Well, part of the answer is related to the inherent rewards in each of these activities. But another part is that I am also hoping, vainly perhaps, that these pursuits will hold off the threat of a decline in mental and physical powers as I age.
After I retired a few years ago it dawned on me that I could, within reason, do anything I liked with my time. Travel the world. Vegetate in front of a TV. Hug a tree. Save the planet. Play the stock market. Spend my kids' inheritance. Sit on a beach. Go to law school. Be the backgammon champion of Yahoo! Learn how to play steel drums. Watch the Yankees win the World Series every year. (Hey - this was the year 2000 - anything seemed possible.)
What to do? After a while (and a few false starts -- geeze there are some seriously good backgammon players on Yahoo!) I developed the notion that I should participate in a range of activities that would challenge both mind and body, in the hope of staving off the aging process for as long as possible. A kind of Use It Or Lose It philosophy.
As the years go by the occasional "senior moment" is a check on how well this strategy is succeeding -- or not. That phrase is usually used to describe the lapses in memory experienced by older folk, of the kind celebrated in these jokes from Dull Men's Club. But, as you will see, I use the phrase in a broader sense: those moments, good and bad, that give me a checkpoint on how the Use It Or Lose It plan is working. Here are five of my senior moments from the last couple of weeks.
1. Going to the ATM and forgetting my PIN number. What a shocker! I go and get cash from the bank every couple of weeks or so. And I've had the same PIN number for at least a decade. But last time I went to the cash machine and it asked me for my number... Ummm. Well, I know some of the digits. What are the other two? One-zero? Let's see. No, it doesn't like that. Zero-zero? Wrong again. Hmmm. Wonder how many tries I get before this thing eats my card? So I went home cashless. Next day I tried again and the number came straight back to me. Weird. Have I lost it? Will someone half my age please leave a comment and say this thing has happened to them too? Please?
2. Running a fast 5k. The marathon training has been going well. Ten weeks (out of twenty six) under my belt now and I haven't missed a single workout. Every two or three weeks the program calls for me to run a fast 5k. The time achieved is used to estimate my target time for the marathon based on a table in Jeff Galloway's book. I ran a 5k early last week and was surprised to discover that it was the fastest time I had run this distance for five years. OK -- nothing like as fast as my personal best that I ran in the distant days of my comparative youth in my early forties. But even so it's good to know that in at least one aspect of my life I'm not declining into early senility.
3. Better Tacks. Later in the week I broke the ice on the edge of my local lake and went for a sail in my Laser. It was one of those rare days when the wind was in the perfect direction from the south, down the long axis of the lake, meaning that the usual huge shifts and wind holes and slam dunk gusts weren't quite as bad as they are every other day. A solid 10-12 knots. Gorgeous sunny day with blue sky. I worked on gybes and tacks and windward mark roundings and leeward mark roundings. Especially with my tacks I felt I was really making progress, applying some of the tips I picked up from my instructor in Menorca, tacking better in these conditions than I ever had before. I can still improve.
4. Not getting lost. This week my marathon program included a nine mile run. Relatively easy after the sixteen mile run last week. Afterwards I looked back in my 2005 running diary as I couldn't remember where I had done the same week's long run last year. Ahah. That was the infamous senior moment when I got myself lost in the woods that I wrote about in Sense of Direction. Oh well, be thankful for small mercies. Some times just not getting lost is a sign of progress.
5.....................? I'm sure there was another senior moment I was planning to tell you about, but for the life of me I can't remember it. Perhaps it will come back to me tomorrow? Does this make six?