Now in my early sixties, I try to stay physically active by playing pickup basketball once a week and tennis twice. We have a dedicated group of people, ranging from 21 to 79, who show up regularly at the gym. In the course of several hours, we manage to get a good workout and break a healthy sweat. When it’s all over, I’m tired but content; a few hours later, I’ll feel the stiffness of muscles and joints, but I expect that. Thankfully, by the next day, most of the soreness has vanished. It’s a miracle!
Over the years, I have broken a few bones: a left clavicle and a right ring finger playing touch football, a fibula and a rib playing basketball, and a fractured wrist while building my house. These are minor injuries compared to someone like Evel Knievel, who, over the course of his dare-devil motorcycle career, endured over 433 broken bones. So I’m not complaining.
I don’t consider myself accident prone, but I’ve survived my share of near misses: nearly walking off the roof backwards while unrolling roofing felt, falling off a ladder with a power sander, kickbacks from a chainsaw, and even falling asleep at the wheel and crashing into the woods at 60 mph. I’ve tried to learn something from each of these incidents to avoid tempting fate. But the way things go, random stupidity could be lurking around the next corner. It seems to have a way of finding me.
So, most of the time, I’m on my guard for the next surprise. They seem so out of the blue. I’ve taken a number of spectacular spills while hurtling down winter hillsides on cross-country skis, but have never broken a bone or even pulled a muscle on the slopes. And yet I’ve reached down and severely strained my lower back simply lifting a small box of corn flakes for breakfast. Several times I have flipped head over heels backwards while playing tennis and basketball, only to pick up a few small bruises. And yet, you can easily wake up in the morning with a severe kink in your neck that lasts for two days because you slept wrong on your feather pillow. There’s just no plausible explanation. I don’t sky-dive or bungee-jump, so I’m not a major risk to my health insurance company. Our doctors constantly remind us to stay active, eat a healthy diet, and avoid sedentary lifestyles.
I’m sure, as we get older, we all have our share of aches and pains. Some people talk about them more than others. As I near the age of Social Security and frequent naps, I don’t want joint stiffness to be the main topic of conversation. Maybe what I need is a good massage . . . or more likely, a good stiff drink.