Just the other day I casually referred to myself ‘middle-aged’; a comment that, while at first I stated jokingly in relation to the fact that I am unsure of what a ‘Doja Cat’ is, I just as quickly realized that the words I just spoken held more truth than I was prepared for. No one knows for certain how long we really have, of course, but after a moment or two of silence, some deep reflection, and a quick bit of probability-based math, I began to contemplate the weight of my words, placing them in relation to the events currently taking place in my life, in particular how my body seems to struggle at keeping pace with my mind.
Aside from the fact that my knowledge of what’s hip and cool is starting to wane, at 42 years old, I am recognizing that my physical self doesn’t always do the things I want or need it to do. In addition to that, as I sit here and reflect, I am willing to own that I’ve started to exhibit the behaviors of someone who is going through a mid-life episode – tattoos, dreams of hiking the Appalachian trail, requiring a pill box to keep my meds straight; the usual sorts of things to indicate that I am not longer the spry young fox I think I am.
My emotions are mixed with this realization. I am on one hand at complete peace with my transformation from carrying a cold-hard six pack to sporting more of a ‘Dad’ bod appearance. I am quite comfortable in making decisions devoid of the intent to impress others, but on the other hand I am realizing all too quickly that I’m struggling to keep up with my kids, and that is what’s getting to me more than anything else. With that in mind, I am taking steps and working on assessing things through an alternate lens; recognizing that while there are differences between my desires and abilities, it is through that realization that I can better determine what it is I really want and what will truly bring me joy through these situations.
Our backyard, Summertime, arguably the hottest day of the year, two kids with their Dad on a trampoline. Action!
It tells me that I am bigger, older, more experienced, and therefor wiser and absolutely capable of enduring longer and more extraneous bouts of trampoline jumping than these two little beings, half my height and weight combined, who stand before me. While they are still figuring out how to do somersaults on this thing, I could do backflips and a triple salchow if I wanted to. Quite frankly, trampolining requires very little effort and I could probably do this and learn to play the violin at the same time. Bouncing? HA! That’s not even a real work-out. Here we go…
It tells me, after three short jumps, that my joints are lacking lubrication, that my spine wasn’t meant to move this way, that my dinner is probably coming back up any second, and that my lungs don’t have enough capacity to keep me bouncing and alive at the same time. After mere minutes of trying to look impressive and cool in front of my kids, I pretend to hear my wife calling and stumble inside to find the Robaxacet, some ice, and a bucket. What. Just. Happened?!
After realizing there’s no one to impress, but that there is a joy like no other to be found in the laughter these two kids let out while bouncing around and playing games on that trampoline, is more than enough motivation to get back out there and enjoy the experience for what it is, not for pushing myself beyond my abilities. They are just as content having me sit in the middle while I pretend to be an octopus trying to capture them, as they are having me actually jump. In both scenarios, I am with them and we are all happy.
Early evening on the ultimate frisbee pitch. The game – a casual, recreational league of pickup players, ranging in ages from 14-40. I seem to be the only one representing that top age group…
Tells me that laying out for a catch is going to be the TSN turning point and that the cameras are going to capture something epic and worthy of not just Sports Illustrated but put me on the front of Time Magazine: “40-year old specimen from Elora, Ontario defies the law of physics in an anti-gravity leap to catch a disc that would set Guinness records never to be beaten”. Yes, this is the diving catch that will define not only me, but an entire generation. Yes, this is the choice I am making, now: jump!
More specifically, the dislocated shoulder I receive as a result of what I would call a ‘sweet jump’ but others may have perceived as ‘a less than graceful trip over my own feet’, tells me that I have made far better choices in my life.
Tells me that, after taking a year off from ultimate to lick my wounds and ego, it has found peace with the fact that I am on this field to have fun and to exercise both my mind and my body; to push myself, but not outdo myself. I am doing these things for me. I do not care about playoffs, championships, or Guinness records. I am here to have fun with my friends and make lasting human connections.
Friday night, early Summer, both kids are at a sleepover, friends have come to visit (also sans kids), late evening, around 8:30 or so…
As the evening presses on and everyone continues to enjoy themselves and a couple of spirits along the way, the suggestions start to flow around that, because we are kid free, we should go downtown…like we used to do in the good ol’ days. Of course this is a good idea! There’s no responsibility currently keeping me at home, and I’ve got years of experience with late night concerts, all night jam sessions, and staying up past breakfast. Once a rock star, always a rock star!
Tells me the next day that I am foolish, foolish man. It has nothing to do with how many pops I’ve had, but that just because I didn’t have responsibilities at 3:30 in the morning, doesn’t mean they aren’t coming back home before lunch to face. What used to take me a couple of hours to recoup and get back to my best self, now takes me at least a week to re-establish my routine and feel rested, all the while I must ensure my two kids are fed, safe, and, hardest of all: entertained. Once a parent, always a parent.
Asks me, once again, who I am trying to impress? I am the best version of myself when I am rested and sharp of mind. I have no shame in going to sleep at my peak of 10:00 and waking at 6:00 to enjoy a coffee before cuddles and books with my kiddos. That’s the time that matters most.
I love being this age.