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Location: Midwest, United States

Saturday, August 09, 2014

Struggling


I kinda lost my way for a few months too many.

This past winter was brutal by contemporary standards.  I remember far more vicious winters in my youth, but the past few decades have been more benign.  Not so this year.  We had a rough go of it. 

It felt as if winter would never end.  Day after day, it was either snowing or bitter cold.  I didn’t stray far from home all that much.  Heck, the aging battery in my car failed me so often, I found myself stranded more often than not. 

It wasn’t as if I minded the bitter cold.  I kinda find it bracing when my nostrils glue together during frigid times.  (Grooved on it, even, while riding on chair lifts over frozen slopes at midnight in my 20’s). No, what did me in was the duration of the entire affair.

In years past, I would begin my cycling season in March.  I’d ramp up the miles in April and hit full stride in May.  Not this year.  The weather was so inhospitable that I began riding only in late April.  My rides in May were few and far between.

I suffered and struggled.

What I hadn’t realized was how much physical damage I suffered from a long winter’s inactivity. I’m no brown bear that can hibernate all winter long to wake to spring and spring to action.  My winter’s hibernation led to pronounced decrepitude. 

My early forays on my bicycle(s) catapulted me into a near-panic state. My body was failing me.  I had no strength, no endurance or resilience. 

I found myself feeling truly old.

I found myself struggling in ways I’ve never struggled before.

I thought I understood the meaning of “aging” in my 50’s.  I was only half right.  There’s more to aging than meets a 50-year old eye.  At age 63, my cataritic eyes have witnessed far more. 

For the first time in my life, I felt truly old and vulnerable.   I lost confidence in my physical abilities.  And my mind, alas, was engulfed by a truly dark “brain cloud.”

My birthday came and went.  Family and friends called or sent their best wishes.  I did not pick up the phone nor acknowledge their kind thoughts.  Shame on me for that.  Acts of kindness and generosity deserve/warrant appreciation.  Damn that brain cloud!

I was in a miserable state for a few months too many.

I began grappling with finality.  I remembered how I argued with my Father to consider early retirement.  When he was 62, I saw how physically depleted he had become.  I feared he would not live much longer unless he retired.  I promised (a promise kept) that I would finance his “golden years.”  As I had hoped, he retired at 62, but perished by age 66. 

At age 63, today, I realize (with a shudder) I’m every bit as physically depleted as my Father was at my age. 

I struggle with that.

* * *

Lest you think this is nothing more than a melancholy post, there’s more to this story.

It is early August.  Today, I cycled for over four hours and traversed more than fifty miles.  I reveled in the strength that had returned to my legs.  I was grateful for this day. 

What I witnessed was this: 

The sun hangs lower on the horizon.  My days are growing shorter.  Still, the shadows beguile.  The air shimmers.  I feel the change in the air, the change of the seasons and I find it all so ineffably beautiful and meaningful. 

The wind blew from the north and felt so fresh, so azure pure, that I gave thanks.

I felt a gratitude that only an aging being can feel.

* * *


8 Comments:

Blogger Ponita in Real Life said...

I know how hard the winter was. I live a bit farther north than you and commute to work into the big city from a nearby (40 kms one way) smaller city. My exercise consisted of shovelling hellish amounts of snow and putting a few miles on my treadclimber. But I understand the withdrawal into the gloom of never ending ice and snow. It's downright depressing when the cold goes on for so many months.

Perhaps what you need to do for the winter is get one of those contraptions you can put your bike on so you can still pedal away indoors. Not ideal compared to the miles travelled outside in sun and warmth, but certainly enough to keep a level of fitness over the winter months so getting back in shape after the months of hibernation isn't such a daunting and despairing venture.

In my books, your apology is accepted and your presence is a welcome addition to the summer. :-)

Sun Aug 10, 12:33:00 AM  
Blogger June Calender said...

So sad to hear the darkness of your cloud, and so heartened to hear it's lifted at last, unfortunately so short a time before the autumn winds begin. If you are worrying about dying at 66 like your father, try to be reasonable. Ponita makes a good suggestion. My suggestion is yoga, entirely a different discipline than biking but (if you have a truly good and not just a trendy teacher) offering a balance of body, mind and your deeper side.
Good to hear from you, I hope the cloud will not descend again.

Sun Aug 10, 06:50:00 AM  
Blogger Kass said...

So glad you still find beauty and amusement and that you are strong and healthy enough to cycle long distances.

Sun Aug 10, 02:33:00 PM  
Blogger lily cedar said...

I had to stop my exercise program when I started working full-time about five years ago and have noticed a decline in my physical abilities. That being said, I know that with work, I can regain my strength and flexibility. Just seems that I never have time. And I'm so bloody tired after work. I want to work for eight more years which will take me to sixty but I know I'll be very tired for those eight years.

Glad you were able to overcome your decrepitude:)

Sun Aug 17, 03:34:00 PM  
Blogger PattiKen said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

Thu Aug 21, 08:44:00 PM  
Blogger PattiKen said...

(Sorry, that got away from me.)

This may be an odd comment, given the gist of this. But this post may be the most upbeat I've seen from you. That makes me happy. 😊

Thu Aug 21, 08:47:00 PM  
Blogger Bella said...

wow I can empathize with where you've been and the struggle. I too haven't been around much, going through dark times, still I cannot see the end of the tunnel yet.

Sun Aug 24, 09:19:00 PM  
OpenID fromsmilerwithlove.com said...

Been thinking of you lately Jonas. I know I'm bad at keeping up, but came to see what you've been up to. Winter was hard here too, and now, post-Labour Day, summer has come and gone too quickly, and we face a change of season again.

I have no words to offer for the decline you feel. Only empathy. I know, though I am only in my middle age still, that by virtue of my lifestyle, I feel many years older, and though my body is still pliant, my melancholy disposition and chronic pain make things rather more difficult than they should be, and so I think I can relate, if only dimly.

Still, I would never go back to my younger years, say, to my 20s. They were awful years, of not knowing what the world was about or who I was or what I wanted. Things learned along the way, things one can appreciate now that make the journey and the aches and pains worthwhile.

Wishing you well,

Ilana

Fri Sep 05, 10:24:00 AM  

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