Growing Old Ain't for Sissies
Is Fifty Really the New Thirty?
I am 56 years old. Actually, I’m almost 57, but today, for some reason, I was under the delusion that 50 really is the new 30.
After my 30 minute, brisk-paced walk around the track at the YWCA, I decided that I would play a light game of “me-versus-the wall” racquetball. To those of you who don’t play the game, that means I was playing by myself. Having played a pretty good game in my 30’s, plus, having tried to stay active and relatively fit over the years, despite my losing the war against obesity, I figured I could surely hold my own against the wall.
My first few hits felt great! Feeling the tension of the racquet in my hand as I pounded the ball against the wall took me back to my days at The Lakes Apartments where I played daily for years. Perhaps because of that flashback I forgot just how old I was.
I lost memory of the twenty years since I lived at The Lakes and my daily practice on the courts. I felt myself capable. I told myself that I could return that high lob; I could twist my body to hit the ball against the back wall, then turn quickly to get back into play. Gosh, it felt good! But, I’m 56, almost 57; something had to go wrong. It happened so suddenly I didn’t even have time to think of the immediate seriousness.
What happened: I decided I should RUN after a ball returned by the wall to the opposite side of the room. Now, had I remembered that I was 56, almost 57, I would have watched that ball bounce to a standstill over on the other side of the room. But nooooooo; I decided to RUN to make the return. I can’t say for sure what happened; either I turned too quickly and became dizzy or my foot got stuck and I plunged forward. I was in mid-run when suddenly the wall loomed inches away from me at an angle I could not comprehend. My brain went into overdrive, but not in time to decipher what was about to happen. In a milli-second, I FLEW- do you hear me- FLEW into that wall, full force.
I braced the fall with my hands and face (the face was unintentional), but somehow, along with those injuries, my knees were scraped also. I don’t know how. I fell to the floor, eyes clinched shut to keep out the reality of what had just happened, pain leaping forth from the air around me, settling all over my body: my back, my knees, my wrist, my elbow. All I could do was lie there waiting to see the stars that people who’ve had sudden injuries describe. Surprisingly, no stars came. Believe me, I looked for them. When I opened my eyes, I expected to see SOMETHING or someone on which to blame my fall. But the only person there was my friend and exercise partner; she had run into the court as soon as she saw the collision. Her voice calmed me enough that I realized that I would live, so I opened my eyes, rolled over on my back and began planning the next few sedentary days filled with doses of 56 year-old reality and Tylenol.
Now, I know that hitting a wall at full run at any age is bound to be painful, but doing it at almost 57 debunks that myth that is all the rave right now: Fifty is fifty, not thirty.
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