This is a down day, an off day, a stay-put day. We’ve learned that in order to “stop and smell the roses,” we first have to stop — and so we do, even when it means slowing our progress.
We have plans to get out for some fun later today, and I’ll probably talk about that tomorrow. In the meantime, there’s another subject I want to address.
After taking two days to wash and wax Ernie back in April, I wrote about the realities of aging. I’ll turn 64 a week from now, so naturally (I suppose) the same thoughts are running ’round my head again. This journey of ours, and what it asks of me, only amplify those thoughts.
As I said to Deb while we were rolling down the Interstate a few days ago, “We are the old people pokin’ along in the motorhome.” We laughed, but she feels it, too.
Some signs of advancing age are obvious — I don’t have quite the physical strength I once did, for example. Joints and muscles often ache after surprisingly little effort and recovering takes longer. My skin is thinning and tears more easily. My night vision isn’t what it was.
What’s more, I can sense that my reflexes have a bit less snap they used to. Hard as it is to admit, I’ve lost a step.
That’s hard to admit because I’m the guy who rode street motorcycles for decades, covering close to a half-million miles from coast to coast. I remember that guy, the one who saddled up before dawn and rode hard for 250 miles just to have a hearty breakfast. Hell, I once logged 1,106 miles in 24 hours — just to say I’d done the “Thousand-in-One.”
My aging body, however, knows I’m no longer that guy. A recent 500-mile day behind the wheel of our 16-ton motorhome took a heavy toll. And my brain doesn’t goad me into being as bold as I once was — the voices in my head are far more cautious these days.
I’ve lost some of my nerve. Coming to terms with that might be the hardest thing of all.
It’s a Man Thing.
Deb and I talked candidly about all this the other night before bed. I laid bare my gnawing doubts, my nagging concern that they’d jeopardize our journey. Turns out she’s on exactly the same page — in a positive, supportive, empathetic way.
She wants the same things out of our odyssey. Her boundaries and her thresholds are where I’ve set my own. Her perspective on this experience aligns perfectly with mine.
I’m a fortunate man.
So there are mountains we won’t climb, routes we won’t traverse and places we won’t go. Cruising at 55 or 65 and setting our maximum daily mileage at 300 works for both of us. Aiming for stays of two nights or more is just fine.
See, one of the best things about the privilege of getting older is that we don’t have to prove anything — not to ourselves and not to anyone else. We’re not compelled to test limits or conquer fears. We’re less inclined to compare ourselves to others. The die is cast, and we’re under no obligation to be anyone but the people we’ve become.
Deb and I are still vital and able. We’re up to the challenges we’ve taken on. Most important, we’re comfortable in our own skin.
We’ll define our American Life. We’ll chart our own course.
Take care of yourselves, Patriots. Stay calm. Stay sharp. Stay free.