Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘aging

Mixed Tracks

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The thing about aging, especially complaining about the less than glamorous aspects associated with it, is that there are always going to be people older than you for whom the whining will appear inconsequential.

“You think that’s bad, just wait until…”

We each have our moments in time. It’s natural to try comparing, but it’s also natural, to discount each other’s comparisons.

I used to be able to write my name in the snow when peeing. Now I just make Pollock style splatter painting designs.

At least I can still pee.

Speaking of tracks in the snow, I captured a cute combination of chicken traffic along with what I’m assuming were prints of a local prowling outdoor cat.

I’m not sure who was there first, but it is unlikely they were actually wandering around together.

If you pay close enough attention, you will see the tracks of the chickens are pointing in opposite directions.

I also think the paw print is a double exposure. It seems like too many toes, but I suspect it is a function of two feet being placed in the same spot.

Watching Delilah on walks, and often wanting to capture pictures of her paw prints, I have come to notice how often her back feet step in the same place as her front feet did. I think the cat was doing the same thing.

I am reminded of a snowy morning during my trek in Nepal when two of my travel mates were pestering the Sherpa guides to find us some tracks from an elusive snow leopard.

Eventually, (we think) they used the old trick of making some rather convincing prints in the snow with their own hands.

Everybody had a good laugh over it, although no admissions were ever offered, and a question over authenticity lingered unresolved. We were happy to imagine the excitement of what such evidence implied, if it had been real.

My mind has returned to my 2009 Himalayan trek because we watched a Netflix DVD last night called, “The Himalayas,” which dramatically told the story of South Korean climber, Um Hong-Gil, leading an expedition in 2005 to attempt recovering the bodies of three friends who died there a year earlier.

I find such expedition movies fun for the brief few minute glimpses they almost always include of the flight to Lukla, the swinging bridges, the rocky trails through rhododendron trees, the shrines, prayer flags, and initial views of Everest that are all the very places I walked.

Even though we weren’t on a mountain climbing expedition, those who were, traveled the same route we did, to get where they were going.

We all made mixed tracks in the snow on the trails.

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Written by johnwhays

January 9, 2019 at 7:00 am

Twenty Years

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Six months into 2019, I will reach another decade milestone of birthdays. It will mark the entrance to my fourth life span, as measured by my twenty-year segments of life. My perspective goes like this: From birth to age twenty, it seems like a mind-boggling amount life experiences.

We know almost nothing when born, basically starting with little in the way of consciousness, then progressing to a fully functioning adult –give or take a few/some/many skills; individual results obviously vary. Using those first twenty years of life as a benchmark, the changes in the next twenty years aren’t so dramatic.

But here’s the key: It is still the same span of time in number of years.

If it felt like a lifetime of experiences to get to twenty-years-old, then use that same reference to view life from twenty to forty. Don’t devalue that second span of twenty years just because of how much you already knew when it started.

Same thing again when reaching sixty. You have lived from zero to twenty, three times by sixty years old.

Young people may naturally perceive small differences between people in their sixties or eighties. But considering it from the twenty-year reference, that difference is another lifetime.

Last fall, my health insurance provider mailed me a notice that it was time for my annual physical. You know, that annual physical that I get around to every four years or so. As the calendar rolled over to the new year, the one where I will turn sixty, I felt motivated to make the appointment.

Now that I’ve survived that nuisance cold I picked up over the holidays, I’m in great condition for a well-health check. Problem is, I don’t want to bring up any symptoms of aging for fear the doctor will want to sell me a battalion of pharmacological solutions.

Among nuisance details like age spots on my skin, and declining testosterone induced nose/ear/eyebrow hair growth, I’m recognizing new and increasing signs that my oft-sprained ankle from years of sporting activity is sending very arthritic aching signals lately.

The ankle pangs provide a compliment to the arthritic thumb pain that my hand doctor discouraged me surgically treating when I sought advice on it after the family trait showed up in my left hand about a decade ago.

Being uninterested in long-term prescription treatments, I would like to delay a standard routine of osteoarthritis pain medicines as long as possible.

I’ll focus my next twenty-year life span toward optimal hydration, controlled sugar intake, healthy meals (portion control!), regular planking and stretching, clean air, positive mental focus, regular dental checkups/eye exams, interacting with our animals, and sending love to everyone, in attempt to manage the ravages of time.

Who knows? Maybe in another twenty years, they will have perfected the art of genetically re-engineering epigenetic changes or senescent cell management, and aging will be a thing of the past.

Twenty years seems like a lifetime of experience, though, doesn’t it?

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Waves

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Words on Images

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Yep, Snow

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Well, we got that out of the way. The first snowfall of the season arrived and decorated our place with a light frosting of white yesterday.

Made for a great Sunday afternoon of lounging in front of the fireplace and watching football games on television up in the loft.

There will be plenty of other days to be out in the elements when flakes are flying in the months ahead. I elected to spend the first one indoors.

Am I showing my age?

Yeah, probably.

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Written by johnwhays

October 15, 2018 at 6:00 am

Photo Explained

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Mary was the only one to question the picture I tossed into yesterday’s missive about my aging, regardless how fiendishly intriguing I was trying to be. I consider the night that photo was taken to be one of my masterpieces of creative interpretation.

A little over thirty years ago, when I had only my father as a reference to what my future appearance might become, Cyndie and I received an invitation to a very special event celebrating her mother’s birthday.

On the occasion of Marie’s 50th, there was going to be a rousing sock hop dust-up on the reserved second floor of the highfalutin Jukebox Saturday Night nightclub in downtown Minneapolis. Of course, the theme was “The Fifties!”

We were to come all dolled up in our best 50s getup.

So, I did.

Then I acted genuinely shocked and embarrassed when I walked in and found out I had misinterpreted the theme.

Didn’t fool Marie one bit.

For some reason, none of the guests whose years were already into the fifth decade seemed all that impressed with my attempt to appear their age. Especially as they stood dressed as if they were wearing outfits they had saved from high school or college thirty years earlier.

Obviously, I wasn’t quite as cute as I imagined myself to be.

Frankly, that fact hasn’t changed as much as it probably should have.

For the record, Cyndie tells me she was wearing one of her mother’s dresses from back in the day. I just thought she was trying to look fifty, too.

<*Ducking and running…*>

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Written by johnwhays

September 5, 2018 at 6:00 am

Instant Aging

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I have developed an unmistakable hunched-over gait that instantly adds years to my appearance. Even though I have been able to carry on with a wide variety of chores, my recent disc flare up has slowed my motions dramatically.

I didn’t have too much discomfort mowing the lawn on the small tractor. I did mostly okay using the power trimmer to cut back the overgrowth along the trail outside our southern fence line. I raked. I used the pitchfork to turn composting manure.

Oh, the chickens love that task. We uncover a lot of crawly insects when disturbing the compost piles. We do the scratching for them. They just show up to reap the rewards.

Funny how they turn those creepy bugs into eggs we find irresistibly delicious.

Regarding my difficulty with standing straight after I’ve been sitting for a while, I’ve got a hunch. Without actually being able to see how the degenerating disc is causing me pain, I can only guess using the sensations I feel.

For the most part, there is nothing more than a dull sense that something is amiss. I never know what movement or gesture is going to result in the feeling of electric shock, when I presume the bulging disc suddenly reaches a nerve.

It seems to me that my body takes it upon itself to protect me from the possibility of the shock by locking up the muscles in the vicinity. This happens unconsciously, and when I try to stand up, those frozen muscles are no help. The remaining muscles have to do all the work, and my movements look incredibly labored.

Eventually the rest of my back, neck, and shoulders become stressed and fatigued from essentially fighting against the frozen lower back muscles that are trying to protect me from the feeling of being stabbed.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy my body is trying to save itself from the stabbing shocks, but it reaches a point where the protection is as bad as the injury.

Today, I have new respect for the stilted shuffle of an old body. It’s probably busy protecting itself best as it knows how.

I’m hoping the continued addition of yoga strengthening and stretching positions will provide added information for my body to reign in the extreme reaction of seizing up completely.

Have you ever noticed how easy it is for aging to come on instantly, but regaining youthfulness requires a lot of effort over a relatively long period of time?

I fail to see the harmonious balance of nature in that.

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Written by johnwhays

September 4, 2018 at 6:00 am

Karmic Humility

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Today is Friday, so I was able to sleep in because I don’t commute to the day-job on Fridays. The final minutes of my slumber this morning were filled with a dream about our cattle.

We don’t have any cattle.

Made me think of the saying, “all hat, no cattle.”

I would have said I was dreaming about cows, but after the great escape and tromping of our property by our neighbor’s bovine ten earlier this summer, we learned he didn’t have cows. His herd was all steers, so the term to use was, cattle.

I’m thinking my mind was dreaming of cattle to distract me from what is stabbing me in the back during my waking hours these last two days: degenerating discs again.

In a twist of karmic humility, instead of boasting about the progress of five consecutive months of daily plank exercises, I find myself focused on a debilitating flare up of stabbing back pains. The precious positive thread woven into this tale is the noticeable difference in level of disruption this time. I truly believe it is the result of the strength built up in my core from my string of consecutive days of planking.

When my series of painful back injuries were diagnosed as degenerating disc disease years ago, I was given a regimen of recommended exercises to treat the symptoms. The easiest was to walk a half an hour a day. Stretching and plank exercises were also advised. 

I was all about the walking, but the exercises weren’t activities that I easily maintained.

Oddly enough, it wasn’t my degenerating discs that inspired my decision to finally get serious about planking. It was more about vanity. I was unhappy that none of my healthy efforts ever seemed to put a dent in the paunch and love handles that graced my midsection.

Cutting the amount of sugar in my daily diet had gone a long way to trim out my overall plumpness, but that classic paunch persisted.

I also credit the annual Tour of Minnesota bike trip for inspiring me to plank. Knowing I was at a risk of not having enough opportunities to bike in preparation for the mid-June trip, I decided to try planking every day in April to at least build up my core strength.

My butt might not be ready for the trip, but the rest of me would be resilient and strong. Knowing that planking was also advised to ward off back problems did help maintain my motivation at the time. Who wants to bike all day and sleep on the ground at night with an ailing back?

So, I succeeded in planking all through April, twice a day, in fact. It’s said that doing something for 30 consecutive days goes a long way to creating a habit. I planked through May, June –taking a week off during the bike ride– and have continued pretty much every day since.

Sometimes I miss an occasional day, or skip a morning or night, but the habit has been established, and the developing results are noticeable. The paunch and love handles are losing ground. As the planking has gotten easier with accumulated strength, my routine has expanded to longer duration, two-point planks, side planks, and more yoga stretching.

This morning, the routine is greatly modified to accommodate a recently unhappy, worn out disc.

Consider me duly humbled.

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Written by johnwhays

August 31, 2018 at 7:53 am