I was walking along a trail today and an older woman pointed to the nearby tidal river. “Look”, she said “there are a lot more rocks now.” She was referring to the large number of rocks and boulders that were visible along the shoreline, since the tide was low. It occurred to me that there were no more rocks there at that time than at any other time. They are always there, just sometimes covered by water. Depending upon the depth of the water, the rocks present varying levels of potential danger to boats. At high tide, there is little danger because the water is deep. At low tide, there is little danger because the rocks are plainly visible. It’s that in-between condition that can be dangerous.
It seems to me that our attitudes about ourselves can be like that. If our hang-ups or self-doubts are deeply submerged, they have little overt impact. If they are out in the open, they can be dealt with as needed. It’s when we allow them a little leeway, and they nibble at the edges of our thoughts, that problems can arise. They can exert influence upon our decisions and our relationships and we may never even realize it because they are neither quiescent nor overt, but subtle and sneaky. I guess what I’m saying is, we need to be constantly watchful and not let that in-between condition prevail.
I’ve been building a home obstacle course the past few weeks which I have been calling my “mini-Ninja” course, inspired by the show American Ninja Warrior. When it’s done it will look like a grown up version of a kid’s jungle gym. The problem I have been facing is that the darn thing is so heavy it’s difficult to assemble on my own.
That came home to roost last Sunday when the structure collapsed while I was trying to raise the taller of the two end pieces. I managed to dodge most of it, but I torqued my left forearm a little trying to stabilize it before I saw the futility of that effort. I admit, looking at that pile of timbers an pipes I felt more than a little discouraged. I may even have sung a few choruses of “the old four letter serenade”.
There thing is, it’s not a bad idea-it may even be pretty good! It’s the execution that has been problematic. So I have come up with a new idea for stabilizing the two end pieces in two directions at once to help keep them standing. Instead of trying to man-handle 12 foot long 4 x 4 timbers into place in brackets to connect the two ends, I’m going to use two 12 foot long 2 x 4 timbers which will be much easier to maneuver and will accomplish what I need just as well.
The upshot of this is that when you suffer a setback, it’s OK to get angry and annoyed. Go ahead and vent-I sure did! But get it out of your system and get back to what you were doing. If you need to, rethink the process and come at the problem from a different angle. Just don’t give up.
Here is my revised plan-bracing in two directions!
I’m 57 years old and 60 is fast approaching. I was recently told that I don’t act my age when I showed someone a home obstacle course/jungle gym I’m building. This was meant as a good hearted rebuke, but I take it as an affirmation. I freely admit I don’t act may age because I’m not convinced that age is a limitation.
There are plenty of people in their 60s, 70s, 80s and beyond who don’t “act their age”. Daniela Barnea, 73, recently won three gold medals in swimming. Jacinto Bonilla at 77 competes in CrossFit and even had a WOD named after him. Paul Tetrick, 85, has won more than 12 USA Cycling Time Trial Championships. A quick online search will turn up so many “seasoned” athletes it will make your head spin!
Growing older is inevitable barring illness or injury. To my knowledge there is no law that says we have to grow old in our spirits, though. Certainly there is nothing that mandates allowing our bodies to fall apart from disuse or misuse. I honestly do not see myself growing old with anything approaching complacency. As Dylan Thomas wrote “Do not go gentle into that good night, Old age should burn and rave at close of day; Rage, rage against the dying of the light.” I plan to go down kicking and screaming until I draw my final breath!
I have been thinking a lot about being single at 57 years of age, lately. Without going into unnecessary detail, I was briefly married a long time ago to an unpleasant woman. I have never felt compelled to take a chance on repeating that mistake. That is why I find myself single well after the half-century mark.
Here’s the thing: I am not bothered by being alone. I have always been comfortable with my own company. I believe that this has fostered in me a certain self-sufficiency. I answer to no schedule but that which I choose, and I find a lot of satisfaction in that. I would probably make a really good hermit, as long as my cave had WiFi.
Frankly at my age, it’s hard to imagine having someone around all the time. I have work, church, and friends, so I’m not planning on changing any time soon. I am, as Mary Chapin Carpenter sang, alone but not lonely.
I strenuously exercise on a regular basis because I want to be healthy. I eat vegan because I don’t want animals to suffer on my behalf. I decrappify because I want less stuff cluttering up my house and attention. I do 90 percent of the repairs on my house to save money and frankly, because I can. So there you have it, the motivations for four of the big ticket items in my life.
Here’s the thing: motivation is all at once personal and situation-specific. At the end of the day, each of us must identify that which we value and how much we value it. For example, if you want to lose weight but aren’t willing to move a bit more and eat a bit less, you like the idea of losing weight but you aren’t motivated enough to do the necessary work. I lost count of the number of times someone has told me they’d love to drop a few pounds, but when I suggest easy ways to start, they balk.
They are not motivated so much as they are wishful. Well guess what, there ain’t no genie in a magic lamp here.
It isn’t just weight loss, either. Anything that can or should matter to you (and I leave it to you to make that distinction) is subject to motivation. And, that which is subject to motivation is also subject to its loss. So how do you find and maintain motivation? Here is what works for me: keep the reason I started something in mind (I keep my “before” photo on my fridge to remind myself why I exercise), I participate in online accountability groups for support and feedback, I view challenges (like home repairs) as opportunities not limitations, and I don’t let setbacks define my level of success (speed bumps are not the end of the road).