When does age set in?
When I woke up this morning, I felt every bit of 45 years old. My calves were tight because my sheets on my bed were tucked, and the old calves cramped up a little overnight. My shoulders were stiff and sore from striking a wing chun dummy over and over again, and hitting my heavy bag earlier in the week, over and over again. I turned my alarm clock off, and rolled back over on my back and stared at the ceiling. Then I looked at this photo of the 'sons' of the family that my dad shared on social media. I realized, I'm the second oldest person in the picture! It occurred to me that I really am getting old. So I thought to myself, when do we realize age setting in? Obviously it's going to be different for everyone. But it seemed like a good thing to write about at the time.
I thought about how as I've aged, various types of activity, and subject matter interest have changed. Joint pain and creaking bones aside, setting my own personal weight lifting records just doesn't appeal to me like it used to. Perhaps I can credit my sifu in Wing Chun for this, but now I find myself diving into more reading, deep thinking about violence and war and how the world perceives such things, and setting time aside to punch and kick things. This is the kind of thing for which I've always had some fascination. But it is suddenly like because of what I've learned over the years, these activities have become more cerebral - yes, even the punching and the kicking! Of course, there are some days I just wish I could give Age itself a swift kick to the groin. Alas, I still like pizza and sweet tea, so some of the weight I've gained with AGE only exacerbates its physical effect. But I believe the older I get, the easier it is to connect the dots to what I know, with what I see all around me. Something like martial arts and the study of war and violence can actually help one apply such knowledge and wisdom to the human behavior we see all around us, every day; whether you work in a school, a hospital, a bar, a martial arts school, a church, or drive a truck. Add some scripture to the mix, and it really opens your eyes.
One thing that has raised its ugly head is Death itself, so I thought I'd go ahead and get that uncomfortable subject out of the way. I have old friends who've recently lost their closest relatives, from parents to grandparents to close aunts and uncles...even their husbands or wives. That was something that just six or more years ago, I didn't even think about. One can certainly blame the state of things in the world today as part of the reason - but I do believe TIME itself becomes more and more real, and evident, when Death gets closer and closer to you personally, without it actually touching you. It becomes ominous, even, because it almost becomes like the Final Destination movies, where you keep wondering when that dark entity will reach out and touch one you love, or even you! Put a gun and badge on, read a few news articles, and pay careful attention to some of the citizenry out there when they stare at you as if you invented racism or corrupt cops - and it doesn't exactly make you feel all warm and cozy. Add the fact that your own parents are in their 70's, and have dealt with their own health scares, and Age starts ringing its warning bell.
Then of course, your offspring have a humorous yet annoying way of reminding you of your age. My son helps keep me a little more humble, even though it can sometimes tick me off, haha. But he loves reminding me of how old I am, and he throws constant jabs at my short term memory. He does it in jest and sarcasm, and he usually doesn't take it too far. But he certainly won't let me forget how old I am. I can't blame him. I've done the same thing to my 'old man' for years; from picking on his hearing, to beating him in arm wrestling, it just didn't feel right to ignore my own father's age through the years. I guess it is fair to say, my son 'got it honest.'
It is funny how your priorities change with age. I remember a time where I went out of my way to celebrate football games, plan exactly how many movies at the theatre I wanted to catch in a week, and see how many days in a row I could eat pizza! Now, it's all about seeing how many days of extra duty I can work in a month, will I be able to save up enough money for that gift for my son or my wife, and what time is the latest I can stay up and still get up at 5 a.m.?
Yes, today is my forty-fifth birthday. My son likes to say I am now four and a half decades old. But when I look back at the picture of the sons of my clan, I can't help but be grateful for all those years. Anyone can look at that picture and see God has blessed me in this life so far; why would I stop counting the blessings now?