Choose To Be Young


It occurs to me that youth is truly wasted on the young.  I mean, they have no choice in the matter.  They ARE young.  Which means (inexperience and immaturity aside), they have energy, verve, vigor, excitement, athletic ability (more or less, LOL) and a general physical “feel-goodedness” (yes, I know I made that up – I’m getting older dagnabit, and can’t think as fast as I used to), that we who are getting older can’t help but be jealous of.  By the way, you have NO IDEA how much it pained me to say “we” in that last sentence.

But I have to face it.  All of a sudden, that physical “feel-goodedness” (I’m aware I said it again, thank you!), is starting to slip a little.  Now, my knees do the popcorn song when I walk up stairs.  They like to remind me of how I abused them for years with my football, baseball, soccer, rugby (yes!), softball and bicycling.  During my youth, there was never a weekend (and very few weeknights) that didn’t see me out on some field, courtyard, street or other relatively flat surface that allowed me to run free and feel the wind in my face (and hair, but that’s another blog post).  Now my knees carry me gently around the golf course, and all would be well, if only….

Being a humble man I will tell you that I’m 45 years old.  And if anyone is or has been that age, you’ll understand if I tell you that I’ve been putting some SERIOUS thought lately into trading my old bicycle in for a motorcycle, complete with tattered denim jacket that reads “Born To Be Wild” on the back.  And I’m not ashamed to tell you that my poor, old bicycle has been standing in my basement for some years now.  I STILL can’t believe it’s really been that long since I’ve ridden.  To give you a sense of what a loss that is, when I was a kid in The Bronx, I used to ride my bike with my oldest friend Tootie from the South Bronx near Yankee Stadium, down the length of Manhattan to the Brooklyn Bridge, then back up Manhattan to home again.  And it was FUN!  We broke a sweat, sure, but it felt GOOD!  We couldn’t wait until we’d ride again….

Fast forward to now.  Let me tell you what else occurs to me: being grown is NOT as cool as I thought it would be!  If you’re an adult and you’re reading this…help me out here.  As I became “grown,” I got too busy raising kids, worrying about work, worrying about bills, planning for the future, looking at those strange gray hairs in the mirror, trying to remember when I stopped wearing size 28 waist pants…and I STOPPED playing the sports that I loved – because I just didn’t have the TIME.  I’m “grown” now…so I must concern myself with grown things….  And because I don’t have the time, whenever I try to actually DO something now, I don’t have the energy.  If I ride my bike from the front porch to the end of the block and back, I’m hacking, gasping for breath, pulling some muscle I was previously unaware of, sweating like I stole something, and gulping down ten glasses of water like I had camel in the family….

Let me tell you something.  One of the GOOD things about getting some years under my belt is that, unlike in my youth, things DO occur to me!  (From time to time, at least)!  And what occurs to me at this moment is that this whole “getting old” thing is for the birds.  Yes, I know that as a grown man, I have responsibilities that I MUST take care of.  But, unlike in my youth, I have a CHOICE to be young.  Or not.  I may have put away childish things, but I REFUSE to give up being young!  My knee has popped one too many times, dagnabit.  And I’ve said “Oww!” once too often because I did something simple like turn around fast.

So I’m telling you today, on June 3, 2011, that this 45 year-old man is putting off his mid-life crisis until his 80th birthday.  On that day, I’ll buy my “BTBW” jacket, and prop Mrs. Berlack on the back of my newly-renovated 1946 Harley with her skimpy, polka-dot bikini (hey, this is MY mid-life crisis, darnit)!

Until then, I choose to be young.  I choose my physical shape – and I choose muscular and healthy.  I choose to work out in the mornings before work.  I choose to eat healthy and drink (not gulp!) plenty of water.  I choose to break out my trusty old Fuji, and use leg power over horse power.  (If you listen closely, you may be able to hear a “hallelujah!” coming from my basement).  I choose to run until I feel the wind on my immaculately shaved head.  (That’s not my fault!  I blame it on Grandpa and his genes).  And I choose to live with the energy, verve, vigor, excitement, athletic ability and physical “feel-goodedness” of my youth.

What do YOU choose to do?

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