Thursday, July 12, 2007

I was so much older then, I'm younger than that now ...

 ... so goes the refrain in Bob Dylan's song, My Back Pages.
 
I was running on the beach at Gott Bay last night.  It was a pleasant evening.  I was thinking to myself how, about a year or so ago, my attitude to running was "I wish I had thought about this 25 years ago".  It was almost as if I was trying to convince myself that I might have had a much more fulfilling life if I had only done a little more exercise.  Or maybe I believed it was too late to make a difference.
 
Last night, during a round trip of five miles on the beach, I suddenly realised what poppy-cock this was. 
 
At the back of my mind, you see, is the knowledge that my father passed away when he was 63 and his father died when he was 62.  I suppose I've been presuming the same thing will happen to me.
 
So I came to a decision last night.  I decided to live for at least another thirty years.
 
I decided this at about mile four. 
 
Running is a funny thing like that: you start off, knowing how many miles you have to run, feel the task a little daunting.  Early cramp and a bit of puffing and blowing try to convince you that this is a bad idea and that you should stop, go home, get a cool can of lager from the fridge and put your feet up.
 
The thing is, by the time you get past the half way mark on your run you realise the pain has gone and that you're actually enjoying yourself.  That's when I start to get inspirational ideas like I will live another thirty years.
 
The seed for this idea - I realise this now - was when I was talking to a young friend last week and thought to myself  "when I was your age I was much younger than you".  You can figure that one out for yourself.
 
This led to me thinking about my elders, in particular my father.  When I look at pictures of him when he was roughly the age I am now he looks like such an old man.  Now, maybe I look like an old geezer to younger people on Tiree and I certainly don't claim to know how my father felt when he was my age but you know - I don't feel all that different from how I felt thirty years ago - health-wise, at least.
 
Nowadays it's not uncommon to hear things like 'fifty is the new forty'.  The general assumption is that because we eat a healthier and more balanced diet, because (in this country at least) we have a higher standard of living than our predecessors did and because we have access to a health service (which, when all is said and done, is a pretty remarkable thing) we have a more positive attitude to life and this translates into longevity.
 
But this isn't a passive state of affairs.  I think you have to do something yourself - such as a bit of exercise (and it doesn't have to be a lot, not even running) and do something to stimulate the old grey matter.
 
It 'aint over 'till it's over.
 
So I've come to the conclusion that, far from being almost over, life is, in fact, and in many ways, just beginning.  It's an adventure, every day. 
 
Do not go gentle into that good night, as Dylan Thomas says, rage, rage against the dying of the light.
 
For my part the light isn't dying.  It isn't even flickering.

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