Monday, April 17, 2006

These Crumbling Structures

When we went cycling this afternoon, I noticed the above ruins for the first time. Of course, we hadn't ridden that way since last autumn. The thicker foliage, and make no mistake that there is foliage all around the remains of this structure and even inside it, would have kept the structure fairly hidden, unless you knew to look for it. With patience, dear reader might, eventually, see a connection between the photo and the rest of this post.

After the serendipitous photo op, in order continue on our little journey, we had to pedal up a little incline. I stood up to pedal and reached the top sooner than Cuppa who said, when she caught up, "I had to get off and walk it up. It was too hard on my knees." I told her that that was part of the reason why I stood up on inclines: because it was easier on my knees.

Cuppa: "But that's too hard on my neck to stand and pedal."

AC: "We're a couple of sorry specimens. Aren't we? Your neck; my knees?"

She didn't think so really, all things considered. Thought we were doing pretty well as a matter of fact. But I decided to confess that I felt about five years older this year than last ...

I have been thinking about age and aging (or ageing) quite a but lately. One supposes that these thoughts are totally natural considering my life stage, but I think they gained some momentum at the St Paddy's dance when a woman with whom we were sitting, introduced us to a friend. She said that they had gone to school together.

The thing was that the friend looked younger, despite not trying as hard. She had let her hair go natural and wore less makeup. She was less fashionable. But she still looked younger: something about her skin and complexion, I think.

About a week later, I was chatting with another acquaintance, male this time. Just that day, I had been wondering about his age and deduced that, based on appearance, it could be between 60 and 65. Nope: 72. Meanwhile, my SIL was shocked to learn that our 65-year-old neighbour is just that and not really 75. He simply looks and acts old. Then, there is a 45 year-old at the dance whose wrinkled jowls make her look older than the significantly older Cuppa — at least to me, but I confess to possibly being somewhat blinded by love.

It works both ways. Some look older than their real age, some younger. Of course, appearance only tells a part of the story.To wit: my hair is still almost all dark; there's very little grey, a bit more in my beard, but, even that is more dark than grey. My eyes, however, which may once have been my crowning glory are black-rimmed and saggy. Although I think that I do alright overall in terms of appearance, I may suffer more inner deterioration than others.

I am drawing no conclusion, simply indicating things that I have been recently observing and contemplating.

... On hearing my analysis (yes, this is continued from above), Cuppa opined that she, too, feels somewhat aged by the move. It's just not as easy to handle these sorts of things later in life. We stood there straddling our bikes for a few moments discussing these things. It seems more of a chore to do things now: seems to take more willpower and energy to get out on the bicycles, for example. We're on the eve, almost on the eve, of a big adventure — big for us at least — the trip to Arizona that I have previously mentioned. We know that we'll enjoy it once we get there, but we both confessed to not being overly exuberant with only a week to go. It's the getting ready and the going that are more onerous than they used to be.

Only six years ago, we drove out west, all around once there, and back. We travelled more than 12 000 kilometres in 30 days. We mostly camped. A year later we camped on our trip Down East. Even three years ago, we camped in Manitoba and North Ontario. I'm not sure that I could face that now. Maybe that last experience of camping in the rain in the wilderness is what lingers in my mind. I wonder?

Up until lately, I have been saying and thinking that I am still young in my head. How do I explain to those younger that you still feel, more or less, the same at sixty as at twenty-five. Today, I seemed to be shifting gears, reevaluating. But on the way back, after about ten kilometres of cycling, I began to reconsider once more. I was feeling perkier and younger already. I remembered that I hadn't felt terribly well for a few days, but I was feeling a little more like my old self today. So, perhaps, it had been more of health, or lack of health, aberration than an age-related issue?

Perhaps, I don't feel that I have aged five years in the past one. Perhaps, I have only aged one year.

That would make me 26 ... where it counts.



Granny said...

I used to think nothing of the run from SF to Eureka (over 200 miles and sometimes as far as the Oregon border.

Even made the 3,000 miles across the US.

Now SF seems like a long trip.

Oliviah said...

That picture has captivated my imagination. What stories it seems to tell. I love these kinds of photographs.

PBS said...

It was hard for me to fathom at 20 (and 30) that "older" people would feel the same inside, but it's true. I think that having an older appearance is deceiving and I just hate when people scoff at someone for not "acting their age"!

-epm said...

My wife's grandmother passed away recently. She was 99 and living independently.

At the funeral we reacquainted ourselves with cousins we hadn't seen in twenty years or so. These people were frozen in my mind as young, vibrant and even rowdy twenty-somethings. But here was Jason, the long-haired bean-pole, now a paunchy, mostly bald, and slightly hunched 40-something. And Michelle, the belle, now fuller, with strands of grey and showing the aftermath of years of sun-bathing, and the relentless -- though still subtle -- affects of gravity that settle in with mid-life maturity.

I turned to Bonnie and whispered, "When did we get old?" She squeezed my hand, smiled, and promised not to get rid of me just yet. I looked skyward and whispered a silent, "Thank you."

Still, I'm puzzled as to why, with each passing year, mirrors become less and less accurate at reflecing who I see myself to be.

Valerie - Riding Solo said...

Hey Anvil,

My great grama told us when she was 96 that she was only 17 inside, so maybe you are aging faster if you are 26!

I feel around 16 most of the time inside except for the few days when I feel 200 and all done here.

I try to look for the spirit in the body.

Bonita said...

Deterioriation can be accelerated when activity slows down; I push to stay active, regardless of 'inclination'. Otherwise I'd sit and read all day. Structure is important, too, just like in school - a planned day, with specific accomplishments.

My vision is poor - I require fairly bold type, considerable contrast, to read efficiently. It is difficult to read your words here....

Dale said...

Life is like a roll of toilet paper - The nearer the end, the faster it goes.

Wilf Pringle (memoirs) - As I Recall

Great post, AC. "Shifting gears, reevaluating." I'm with you all the way, friend.

madcapmum said...

I know what you mean, I've been taking stock a lot myself, lately.

God forbid I should be stuck at 16 or 26 inside though! Trying for "timeless"...

methatiam said...

I’m in better shape now than I was twenty years ago. Unfortunately, that may say far more about how I was twenty years ago than it does about how I am now.

P.S. Bonita: if you’re using Internet Explorer, you can enlarge the font under VIEW and TEXT SIZE.

Karla said...

For what its worth, you and Cuppa have always struck me as much much much younger than your biological age. My mother and father in law are about the same age as two of you, and by comparison, they seem ancient. Both retired and always TIRED. They aren’t active in their community or active at much of anything. It sort of saddens me how they aren’t physically well enough – to their own fault - to get out there and enjoy this time in their life to its fullest potential. I think of them, and then I think of this woman at a retirement home I volunteer at. She’s sweet and funny and always “getting out there to try new things”. I thought she was 70. She is 95.

I’ve said it to my husband about a billion times now about how amazing and inspiring you and Cuppa are. I can only hope I am as vibrant, energetic and witty as the two of you when I am your age.

I guess age really is all relative, but what do I know. I’m just a young 26 year hooligan who would get my ass whipped in a bike-a-thon by you anyday! ;-)

oshee said...

Thank you for your post. I have been doing some reevaluating lately too. There was a time in my life when I couldn't even imagine being the age I am. Now I am here I have trouble seeing myself as the age I am. heh. I am forever internally 20.

On your upcoming trip, do you plan to make it into Phoenix at all?
We could do lunch! :-)