Pick Up The Pieces

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The time has come to open the door and walk through. Youth for some of you isn't exactly ancient history, but it and the dust around it has settled in the past. Nod and toss a mock salute. What youth didn't do for you, you must do now: Pick up the pieces and put them together.

That's why today you stand beyond the door and on the gym floor. Say goodbye to the child, but be sure to take the kid with you.

The people who, over the years and by accident or design, built a foundation of muscle, fed themselves decently and treated their bodies fairly are rare and far ahead of their neighbors. They can step into a training program and proceed without the turmoil of emotions and toil of mind necessary to center themselves and aspire.

Those sterling characters who started their robust fitness ventures years ago and have persevered are aware of the precarious twists in the road ahead. They are even more rare and accomplished and will not be thrown off course.

The few who gather in a tight circle around the piles of iron and steel, belt and wraps dangling from their strong grips, access the hairpin curve that edges the heights of the mountain they've climbed, they lead where no one has led before. Tilted heads studying, narrowed eyes focusing and knitted brows concentrating, they improvise the next uncertain move. Stoic grins crowd their faces.

There's a smart way for each of us to go, depending on fitness level, experience, constitution, health, means and available time. Here are some non-technical generalizations about aging based on my limited observations:

~ Needless to say, the timeless teens and the 20-some fly high, far and fast. They are not, however, invincible; they strain and they break, they overtrain and complain. Age...it begins.

~ The terrific 30-some grow, muscularize, further perfect shape and tone while they gather and apply wisdom. Injuries and plateaus are responsible for the latter. Risk taking, heavy weights and mean persistence do the job, yet take their toll on the hardcore. Growing up and growing older...it continues.

~ Forty-some, frivolous and frantic, provides a stretch of positive growth for the trainee who didn't ignore the responsibility to fitness for a regretful length of time—the longer out of the loop, the bigger the penalty. The slightly abused or negligent pick up where they left off after dutifully and painfully reestablishing their parameters. Strength, muscle size and definition can be achieved by the tough, perceptive and determined, given time, and time moves on.

~ The overused over-40 can do wonders to restore health and well-being, control bodyweight, improve energy, strengthen the back and flatten the stomach. Self-esteem is added to the bargain. There's no time or effort to waste...ever again.

~ The early 50s rock on as you suspiciously glance over your shoulder. A ding here and a ding there become more frequent and last a little longer and cause more concern. Human nature, I guess. To push or not to push, that is the question. We hesitate briefly, yet we don't stall and we don't fall apart. Caution is coolish...fear is foolish. We're hanging in there, mister and sister, as we head for 60. Very becoming.

~ The 60s! Oh, my. Sixty is not 50-something. It's larger, it's more. It's older. It's old. Grandma and grandpa were in their 60s. They played cards, ate too much and went to bed early.

~ Those precious 10 years between 60 and 70 have gone by and not by accident and not without my observation, consternation and aggravation, nor my humility, futility and senility. Did I mention yelling, kicking and screaming? I squeezed each year, month and day tightly as if I could prevent their advance. Alas...ain't it funny how time slips away...

Be aware. It seems the curiosity and care I integrated and the wisdom I gathered during the latter half of the 50s gave me a head start on the big 60-oh. During the first 1,200 days of those unpredictable years (after 60 some weirdoes selfishly, slavishly count time by the day), I was on an ascent that I hoped was not a rare and isolated phase. I was stronger, healthier and fitter than I was five years prior.

Stand back, coming through! On Memorial Day in the spring of '06 I squatted 430 and deadlifted 460. No big deal and I ain't braggin' (I had a great spotter), but it was an indication of my reasonably sound condition.

Hmmm...How long can I keep this up?

That was sometime in my mid-60s, just before the notorious other shoe dropped...long before I realized I had worn holes in my socks.

Nowadays, with the dazed 70s making a humble appearance front and center, I'm an awestruck front-row spectator applauding the preposterous acts to come.

I'm hoping the show has a long run, there's a feature film to follow with sequels and, eventually, a continuing TV series.

Brother Dave


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