The Cast: Myself (older).
There. I said it. I’m broken. It’s happened.
I think we all reach this point in our lives. The point where we know we are no longer young. I have been grossly aware of this point—in my life—for many years now (I’m pretending nothing). I get little reminders each time I pass a mirror. I don’t know about some of you, but I have a mental image of myself. Not an idealized version, a real one. For example, I have sideburns. I’ve had them for a while. In my head, I don’t and never will. That’s not who I am. Yet, everytime I pass a mirror… There they are.
So, this idea of evolving-self (or devolving-self) was reinforced two Saturdays ago, when my youngest and I went snowshoeing together (more on that later). And, the reminder of my change became a permanent thing one week ago, yesterday. I got my glasses. Yup, I now have old-man-eyeballs-are-broken eyeglasses. Joy.
Now, despite how it may sound, I am not vain about the having to wear glasses. I knew this was coming. About ten years ago I needed to get a pair of glasses to use while I would use the computer, to help ease the eye-strain. I have used them off and on—more off than on—over the years, and my eyes have changed from that prescription, so they are basically useless. And have been for some time. (the glasses, not my eyes)
I recall one occasion when my mother got her glasses. The family had gone to the mall to do some shopping and pick up her prescription—you had to go into the eye-doctor’s place back then—and after which, as we got into the car and began the drive back to home, my mother said, “I can see the leaves on the trees!” Well, duh. The trees have leaves, mother. They always have. “You mean couldn’t see them before?” Was my question.
“No. I could see the green blob, that meant there were leaves, but now… Now, I can see each leaf!”
Ahhh… I get it now. I didn’t then. But I do now. And, just as a note, I still could see the leaves before I got my glasses (my eyes aren’t that bad).
My wife has glasses (I love it! I think they’re cute on her). My kids all have needed glasses, some have preferred contacts. So, I am not immune to the effects that forced eyewear can have on appearance. I’m just not used to it. This is new to me. I’ve only ever had to wear sunglasses or protective goggles. And I can/get to take them off! But, I can now ‘see the leaves on the trees’ so-to-speak. (just a quick reminder: I could before, my eyes aren’t that bad)
No, I am not vain about the having to wear glasses, but it has got me to thinking about the changes in my life.
I used to do. I used to be so active that it would make your head spin. As a teen, I was hiking all over mountains. I was a professional ballet dancer. I’m a U.S. Marine, for crying out loud. I used to do! But, time has changed that.
As my youngest and I went up into the nearby mountains the other Saturday, it hit me how long I hadn’t done. I have always loved the outdoors. But, with children, sometimes personal hobbies can get put on hold. Most of my children just didn’t want to hike and such with dad. It just became easier to stay home, and ‘go another time’. Well, the last ‘another time’ was over ten years ago. I haven’t broken trail in the snow like I had to the other Saturday, in a very long time. (my thighs reminded me of that very fact repeatedly throughout the excursion—as did my lungs. which, as an adult—after my service, I found out I have asthma. ASTHMA! so, dealing with that snippet of information was a mind-altering fun-fest. for a better understanding of my indignation about this particular topic, see previous paragraph.)
Honestly, physically, I haven’t changed much. I have gained a few inches around the waist. My hair has slightly thinned (I know which child/children did it), and it is greying (every one a mark of survival). I have an ankle that broke and now pops when I walk up stairs—on occasion (the popping, not the walking. seriously, it’s an audible ‘pop’ sound, no physical discomfort or grinding, just an audible ‘pop’). I do light exercise for my heart. Some pushups, crunches, leg-lifts, and such—but have neglected the cardio (as the snowshoeing altitude reminded me over and over). The eyesight’s fading, which was expected—as per my computer-oriented occupation (I’m a graphic designer, I work with type. the first thing to go blurry was type). Fine. All good. All part of life. I’m not complaining. It’s just different, but not.
One of the laws of the universe, that my father taught me, is this: ‘The only thing constant, is change.’ So, it is just different, but it’s not.
As a young Marine, I would do all sorts of stuff, and never thought twice about it. Because, when you’re young, you’ll always be young. ‘Old’ is a long way away. Until it isn’t.
Life has brought me experience and wisdom. Both of which I am truly grateful for. I heard a saying, many, many years ago: ‘Youth is wasted on the young.’ And I agree. And then there’s another saying: ‘If I only knew then, what I know now.’ Or something like that. Yeah, that would’ve been nice.
Life… When you’re in it, you don’t always notice it has moved you along with it. Just the other day I married my wife. We had four children. And now I have one who is married (and she has a two-year-old boy—whom I love very much), one is serving a mission for God, another one just moved out of state to work and have some ‘life experiences’, and the youngest has entered high school… Where was I?!? When did all this happen?!? You really don’t age—until your children do. I was 25 until my oldest graduated high school, started college, got married, and had a child. Then, suddenly, I was in my 40’s. Bwah…
Like many people, I used to eat whatever I wanted to (TWINKIES!!!)—and whenever I wanted it. Now, I eat healthier, although I still have fruit snacks with lunch. After all, red is a fruit (I know what I wrote). However, now, I have to watch what time of day I eat certain foods, as they can upset my tummy. Something of which I never had to concern myself with before. I had an indestructible iron-gut (I have a certificate from 4th grade that verifies this). Now, it’s vitamin supplements and back-off the bacon (I’ve just increased my Spam intake—they’re not the same thing, so it’s okay).
I really think people need to take more time to appreciate where they are at in their life’s journey, what events have occurred, the why’s, how they got there, those sorts of things. I think we take for granted that youth is ‘forever’ and the transition into old-age is ‘forever’ away. Priorities change. Goals change. We change.
As much as my body makes the unexpected—and unauthorized—noises that it does, I still wouldn’t change it. I’ve earned every creak, every wrinkle, every sore muscle, every scar, every broken part (wind included). I’ve earned them. They are the certifications that I have made it this far. I’ve done! And now these glasses… Well, they just add to the spectacle that is me.
*Expotition: See Chapter Eight: In which Christopher Robin Leads an Expotition to the North Pole