Category Archives: No one lives forever…or do they?

Marking Down the Days and Other Birthday Thoughts

Another year has come and gone, and I feel fine. Better than fine actually. The big 52 was reached without incident, and despite all statistical data for young black boys who grew up the way that I did, I survived. My brother and I joke about living on borrowed time, but no matter, it is our time and reaching my 50’s has not been such a bad journey. I still feel that I know very little about life and the world, but what I do know and have come to realize, is that humankind is still the same base animal that it has always been. Our technology and accomplishments don’t mean anything in the great scheme of things. Why, you ask? Well all it takes is to consider where we are in History, and that’s History just here in the United States and not even around the world. On a daily basis we are faced with, mass inequality and a lack of compassion for others. Our leaders protect fanaticism and pseudo patriots that we once Historically denounced. We condemn other nations and engage in resource grabs for our on betterment, and shroud it under the name of betterment for all of humankind. We protect the strong, belittle the weak and crush, without fail, any opposing thought, especially if it means defending those who have little or nothing to help them sustain a livable life. But I’m ranting, and that’s not the intent of this post. Plus, my writing time doesn’t allow for me to seek out substantiation of these claims, because I’m just expressing an opinion, and like evacuation ports that resemble the opening of a tightly clinched fists, everyone has one. This birthday shouldn’t have been any more special than others, but it definitely was, and I owe that to family and friends. I started the day by playing a little tennis and then returning home to sit in front of the Tele with my guitar in hand, practicing some things I need to work on. Later in the day, I found out that my wife was able to invite some folks to the house for a birthday dinner without my knowing it, and the surprise on my face must have said it all. We drank and talked and discussed things that my friends and I always seem to be discussing. The misguided notion of Race, the status of Flamenco, Tennis, Music, Literature, and all things that make up who I have become. The best thing about it was having my “Baby Girl” there, who is 13 and going on 50, express her self among all of us and the nature of her life. It was a good time. My 21 year old kept quiet, but I could see in her movement and gestures, that she was taking everything in and doing what I sometimes do, keep quiet. One of my friends commented on the nature of the ambiance, and how it summed up what he felt made up who I am. Conversations were had in Farsi, Spanish, and English. We laughed and drank and joked about life and the nature of things. A good time was had by all, but especially me, and during it all, I couldn’t help but find myself marking down the days… considering my own mortality, wondering when I would slip into the ether and leave this world. It wasn’t in a depressing way, and instead I welcomed it. I had a friend of mine pass away this year. A guy I played tennis with, who was by all practical purposes, in far better shape than I, and who seemed to be taking much better care of himself than I do. In addition, my beloved Father-in-Law, passed away, so my considering my own mortality was not something morbid at all, at least not in the typical sense. The pain in the passing of my Tennis partner took on the form of shock, because he was only 54 and well of course, in comparing his mortality to my home, you can see the relevance. The pain in considering the passing of my Father-in-Law is more on a personal level obviously, but it hurts because my wife wasn’t able to be present when he passed and as much as that pain may hurt her, it hurts me as well. Either way, much of that is why I went down that path of thinking own the day of my birth.

Well that’s about it for my Birthday thoughts and musings. It was pleasant and more than I could have wished for. I spent time with friends and family. Had great conversation, food and drink, and went to bed happy and content, not afraid of not making it to another day, because up until now, I truly have lived and have remembrances from others as proof of that.

 

Major Milestones and Markers

Agu

Life is filled with major milestones and markers that we all eventually must face and today I faced one of mine. Despite my boyish looks, and youthful spirit, I’ve hit the big Five-O, the half a century, the age I thought was old way back when I was twenty five and someone who was fifty told me how old they were. But look at me, now I’m fifty and loving it, and I don’t feel old at all.  Nevertheless, although I feel the same, I realize that I am not. I know that 50, much like 30 can have some baggage associated with it, good and bad, but still I have to rejoice knowing what I’ve seen and knowing what little I know.

In a way it’s relieving, I suppose. I mean, in one aspect I survived.  I survived the Atlanta child murders, the trips over into the Herndon Homes Housing projects (a.k.a. Fifth Ward) on the weekends to visit my father, life as a Paratrooper in the U.S. Army, and of course the  rampant heart disease, diabetes and obesity that often plagues the American Black community, especially being a southern boy who loves his grits, eggs and bacon, but in moderation of course.

But let me stop right there.  By no means am I in perfect health. I mean I do look decent for my age, but I know my short comings. I know the frailties that plague me despite my love of laughter and semi active lifestyle. For me, Ive got a list that I check in with every so often, just to keep things kosher, and so that I can ensure that I make it to that next marker, 60, which is big, but not as big as 65, especially since that’s known as the retirement age.

One thing I try to watch out for is my weight. I mean it’s never been a real problem, but I do realize I’ve put on some manly pounds, despite my playing tennis twice a week. I also realize that I need to curb my sweet tooth as well as keep an eye on my salt intake. I’ve taken a lot of steps to curb all of that. I don’t add salt to my food and try to watch eating out at Fast Food joints.  The sweets are another issue and the key there is to keep them out of the house, which didn’t work today, since it was my birthday and I made a pig of myself. Nevertheless, I’m on the right track. At work I eat Dates and nuts to snack on. I’d rather have those calories than the chips and cookie snacks that they supply our office with. Overall I suppose I’m doing alright for Fifty, and welcome the next milestone with gusto, but until then, I’m enjoying this day with family and having a piece of cake or two.

Fighting Fifty, Gracefully!

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Tennis Courts

At 3 a.m. on a Monday, I get out of bed and mentally prepare myself for the pain I know that’s coming.  At 49, and thirty pounds heavier than my fighting weight, I realize the stupidity of playing three hours of tennis, three days straight over a long weekend. Forget the joy of winning one day, losing the next and redeeming myself on the third.  Forget the fact that tennis is my all time favorite sport, and the only game I feel that I was born to play. Forget that it felt magnificent to end 2014 by hitting the hell out of that little yellow ball as if I were 25 again.  What I have to consider now is how jacked up my knees feel, not to mention the rest of my aging 49 year old body. Maybe if I had spent a little more time working out over the holidays instead of sitting around trying to clone myself through overeating I wouldn’t be in this dilemma, but the reality is, I simply overdid it and my body is letting me know.

I limp from bed hunched over like a “Land of the Lost” Sleestak hissing with every step. The tile on the bathroom floor is hot ice burning the soles of my feet, but not even it stops the hurt the rest of my body feels. I finish my business and head back to bed tired from my five foot journey. I sit on the edge, too wound up to sleep, and too sore to lie back down.

“All of this could have been avoided,” I mumble and feeling dejected, beat up, and just plain stupid, I add. “Dude, you’re fighting fifty.”

I break the cardinal rule of talking to one’s self and answer back, “Why yes, maybe I am.” Knowing that fighting fifty is only partially true.

You see, here’s the deal. It’s not that I can’t age gracefully. I can. I mean I really can. Over the years I’ve come to grip with many things. I’ve accepted my baldness and the salt and pepper wooly curls that grow on my head. I’ve accepted the need for daily heart medication and the frequent visit to see my doctor. I’ve accepted the desire to be in bed before the nightly news comes on, even on new years because I love waking up to a quiet house and beating the chirp of birds when I step out of the house each morning.  And I’ve accepted that I can’t go out and play tennis three days straight, but that last one has a caveat. You see, I also believe that I don’t have to be the stereotypical, overweight, fifty year old popping pills for every little health issue and complain about the garbage the kids are listening to these days, even if it is garbage. I know that with a little maintenance, I can live a relatively pain free existence and look as good as I feel, while keeping a fresh mindset.

Yes my tennis escapade was a combination of ego, the thrill of the match and too many slices of pie, cake and turkey over the holidays, but I also know that very recently I’ve played that much tennis with only minor aches and pains and not the debilitating deadness I feel in my knees, back and hips. So why not stay out there in the heat of battle if I can? Why not smile across the net at my opponent and say, “Who’s gonna take the trophy today old man, you or me?”

The problem isn’t that I’m fighting fifty, the problem is my inactivity leading up to that big milestone.  This recent assault that I perpetrated against myself is a result of my not exercising off court on the days that I could and should have, as well as my overdoing it. And like many aging athletes, I simply got carried away.  So today I admit that I am no longer the young bull on top of the hill eager to charge down into the meadow and greet one of many grazing cows. Today I declare with pride that I am the old bull, wise enough to know that I must walk down, gracefully, and greet them all.

No, I’m not fighting fifty, but I am fighting any preconceived notions I’ve had about getting there with a whole lot of grace and a tiny bit of competitive fervor.