“You walk like an old man,” said my friend Gary. We had not seen each other for almost two years. I am not offended and listen to him, like it or not, because he cares for me. Gary is very independent, strong and invincible; or so he thought, until he suffered a heart attack caused by a blockage.
That changed his life. Aside from other revelations, he realized he was not in as good a shape he thought he was. Gary loves life and all that it offers him. He took an inventory of his health and then stocked the shelves with an altered lifestyle including diet modifications, a consistent exercise routine, and more. He followed the instructions of his cardiologist. He has regained his strength and a renewed love of life.
When Gary made the comment on my octogenarian stride he was not being critical; he was just concerned about witnessing a repeat of what he had been through.
A few days after Gary voiced his observation, I had another warning.
My friends own a lovely home in upstate New York. For years I had cherished my long walks among the trees, meadows, ponds and lakes, with deer, pheasants, squirrels and a great variety of birds. I know the area like my proverbial pocket.
A day after my arrival, I ventured out into the woods so familiar to me. Soon I noticed that I was not very steady on my feet. They felt wobbly. I had to lie down to rest and take some calming breaths. Slowly I stood up and was able to cautiously walk back to the house. Yes, I was scared and embarrassed.
This event was a propitious lesson indeed. In many ways Gary’s example and admonitions may have saved my life. Clearly it was time for a change; time for action.
Over time our physical condition tends to diminish. The more we advance in years, the faster the process. What was quick and easy now requires more work and discipline. But the rewards of accepting the challenge are well worth the reminder to stay active in body and mind, supported by healthy nutrition.
At the gym, I watched a slim and trim senior gentleman pushing stacks of weights and punishing the treadmill most days of the week at a youthful 95 years. That is an inspiration to never give up.
I continue to learn from my mistakes and the wisdom of others. Rarely do I give advice. I merely advance my opinions. The path you choose is up to you. Let it be something you like and know you need so you can commit yourself. It is what I decided to do.
If you find a morsel of value in my words, that shall be my reward.
George can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.