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Archive for June 7th, 2017

Life is a present

I refuse to believe that I’m sitting in God’s waiting room. I will not accept that those fatalists tell me I have one foot in the grave and another on a banana peel. Okay, so I’m 82, get up five or six times a night to pee, have bruises all over my arms from this or that, and I can’t jump up and click my heels like I did when I was a youthful 65, but so what?

I saw an interview the other day with Carl Reiner, Norman Lear, and Dick Van Dyke. They are all in their nineties and still going strong. “Oh, sure,” you say, “they have access to the best doctors in Hollywood. They’re all rich and don’t have any worries.” I wouldn’t be so sure about that. Yeah, they don’t have to concern themselves with money – as far as we know – but it’s their attitude toward life that excites me. They are excited just to put their feet on the floor in the morning, and I feel the very same way. Reiner maintains that the first thing he reads in the paper every morning, before he even gets out of bed, he reads the obituaries. “If my name’s not there, I get up and have breakfast,” he told the interviewer, while both Lear and Van Dyke roared their approval. I guess he figures if his name was in the obits, he’d just have a cup of coffee and go back to bed…awaiting the retraction no doubt.

A fellow came to me in the gym recently. He said, “I’ve never forgotten what you told me when I was complaining about how sore I felt.” I asked what I had told him – I remembered…I was just checking. “You said that after my 40th birthday, if I didn’t wake up hurting somewhere, I was already dead and just too stupid to lie down.” “That’s very good,” I said, “and after 75, if you don’t hurt everywhere, you haven’t moved in the right way yet.” It’s true. We all have our crosses to bear, but if we treat those crosses with a sense of humor, as morbid as that might sound, they will be made a bit lighter.

Today is generally my day off from working out at the gym. However, I had two early morning doctor appointments so I thought, “What the hell,” maybe you’ll take tomorrow off instead and off I went to Planet Fitness. I did a brief, 20-minute cardio routine and then worked on eight weight machines that covered arms, chest, shoulders, and legs. It’s a special section of the gym where they have what they call “the 30-minute workout.” I’m fully prepared for the pain that will strike…not tomorrow, but the day after. You rarely hurt the day following weight training, but if you’ve done it right, you’ll feel a bit of discomfort two days later. “Why do you want pain at all?” you ask. The only way I can explain it is that this is ‘good’ pain. Sound weird? Yeah, I know, but it’s different. It’s like asking someone why they do stretching exercises. If you don’t, you are more apt to pull a muscle or worse yet, suffer a tear. Lifting weights makes small tears in your muscles but it also strengthens them. Look, I’m no physiologist, I just know that it works for me and the people I know.

So, at the first doctor’s appointment, I learned that my glaucoma is getting worse because my line of sight is a bit narrower than it was last year. No problem, it just means that I’ll have to do more stretching of my neck muscles so I can turn my head faster, right? Hey, guess we took care of that problem. At the second doctor’s appointment, I was shown the test results from a biopsy performed last week. That scab on my head that wouldn’t heal, yep, you guessed it…on its way to become some kind of skin cancer. The dermatologist thought it would be a good idea to hit the entire area with liquid nitrogen…talk about your ice cream headaches, mama mia! While driving home after these two medical visits, I didn’t concern myself with what either doctor had to say. The skies were clearing after several days of rain. The traffic was light with very few idiots on the road. I’d had a great workout, and life is pretty damned good, but then, any morning you are able to pull the sheet off your own face rather than having a morgue attendant do it is a pretty damned good day.

It’s easy to complain about aches and pains. Look how fortunate we are to have them. A number of people with whom we graduated from high school or college don’t have the blessing of those aches and pains. They didn’t make it this far. I leave you with this old parable, “Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift which is why we call it the ‘present.’”

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