It goes without saying - but we say it anyway: the longer you carry a load the heavier it gets. Big revelation, huh?
I think that’s the best definition I can come up with for aging. One day, you just won’t be able to pick it up and that will be the end of the road. You probably get tired of me saying this but it’s the truest of truisms. CS Lewis once said that when the ability goes so does the desire. One day you come to the place that you can’t go on and voila - you don’t want to go on. I’ll be sure to let you know if that works out. If you are sound of mind, you’ll find it out for yourself.
I’ll not forget that time that Tinkie, J-Boy, Tyrus and I were finishing off a couple of bottles of Delaware Punch and Tinkie proposed that he could hold a Delaware punch bottle out at arms length longer than any of us. Guess what? He could. I think he had been practicing. I gave it a try, While I’m talking, why don’t you try. It ain’t easy. One minute. Two minutes. Three. Five? Feel it yet? After a while your arms just get lower and lower. Nothing you can do about it. You still want to but that doesn’t seem to count anymore. I guess practice would help but how would you know?
Growing older is sort of like that, but without the Delaware Punch bottles. As time goes on you just can’t do some things you always did without thinking.
This week on Monhegan Island is, for me, a Delaware Punch bottle event. The trails that crisscross an circle this little paradise are in places very rocky and steep. Once I could hop from rock to rock with ease and sureness of foot. A few years ago I began using one of those adjustable hiking sticks with a carbide tip that will stick on a rock like a third leg. This week I have been experimenting with a second stick and it truly helps going down steep rocky pitches. I's the balance. It's just not there anymore. And all it takes is one little misstep - additional walking sticks notwithstanding.
It’s all about accommodation. The happiest old people I have ever known are those who were smart enough to adjust to their diminishing abilities. Growing old is not an option, if one is lucky. Not being able to hold that Delaware Punch bottle out at arm’s length as long as you once could is one of the more normal things you will ever run into. There is no rule that says you have to be able to keep up with people twenty or thirty years younger than you. Do I hear, “Act your age?”
This could be our last week on this wonderful piece of paradise. I’ve held this bottle out about as long as I am able to. Doing many of the things that bring us back year after year have now become too dangerous to do. There are easier trails. I know that, but I am soon to be 85 and hopefully counting. A trip and a fall could be disastrous. I recently had such a fall in my home and it took me a month to recover. It was very painful but I didn’t break anything. I was very lucky - that time.
I do still have the desire. And there is a lot of walking I can still do. That I will do. Incidentally, I am comfortable giving up the Delaware Punch bottle test for manliness. It never proved anything anyway.