We've all heard of the dreaded mid life crisis. It manifests itself in different ways in different people. Leaving a spouse of twenty plus years. Raiding your life savings to but that convertible red Corvette. Quitting your job and running off on an around the world trip. They all seem to boil down to the same thing. Rebellion against aging.
No one wants to grow up. No one wants to get old. At the average age of forty-three we start to slow down. Our bodies start trying to tell us we can't do all the things our youth made easy. Drinking binges with old friends. Slam dancing at concerts. Drag racing in beat up old cars. Marathon bouts beneath the sheets with significant others. Walking more than fifty yards without running out of breath. Anything physical without needing two days rest and a few dozen Advil.
The mid life crisis is nothing more than a battle between mind and body. The mind says, "Hey! Let's go hiking this weekend!". The body replies, "Go ahead...I dare you!". We try...and we pay for it. Pulled muscled. Broken bones. Herniated discs. When will we get smart? Seriously! At our age many of us are already staring knee replacement in the eye and visiting chiropractors several times a week...and you want to take up rock climbing?
So what can we do for recreation that will appease a restless mind while protecting a rapidly deteriorating body? This is where Sarah and I, usually so much alike, run in to differences of opinion. Well...perhaps it goes beyond a difference of opinion. Okay, we growl, hiss, spit, and claw.
First we need to draw the line on activities we're still not quite old enough to be relegated to. Playing bridge. Shuffle board. Feeding pigeons. Bingo. Collecting Franklin Mint anything. Knitting Christmas gifts. Stock piling greeting cards for every occasion. Reading and taking as gospel super market tabloids (yes DAD! I'm talking about YOU!). Buying small animals and knitting them outfits. Watching nothing but televised home shopping and Doctor Phil all day.
You get the idea.
Every Thursday night we sit and try to come up with some fun activity for the weekend. The conversations generally go something like this.
Mike: "What do ya think, babe?"
Sarah: "Hmmm...how about...we go swimming?"
Mike: "I can't, Sweety, the cold water makes my knees lock up. How about...we can go up to North Carolina and do a little of
the Appalachian Trail?"
Sarah: "No...noooo...my back is hurting a little too much. Why don't we get a canoe and try one of the rivers?"
Mike: "Noooo...I pulled my back a bit rearranging the appliances in the shop. Hey! Want to try bowling?"
Sarah: (scowling) "I'm sick of bowling."
Mike: "Honey, how can you be 'sick' of bowling'? We've gone once in four years."
Sarah: "Once is enough! Maybe we can hit some thrift shops."
Mike: "Yeah...I suppose. If you want to..."
Sarah: "Why are you getting mad? You're rolling your eyes at me!"
Mike: "No I'm not. My right eye wanders, remember?"
Sarah: "It was your LEFT eye!"
It takes another ten minutes for things to escalate until I move to the couch and fall asleep and Sarah goes to Walmart.
In the past month or so we decided to get back in to camping. We love out door activities, with or without clothing, and the North Georgia mountains sound ideal. Sitting with our feet hanging in the river, fishing poles dangling in the current hoping for a trout, listening to nothing but the wind in the trees and the occasional "YEE-HAW" of the rednecks tubing down river, and sitting around a roaring fire at night and watching the stars and reading.
It turns out, though, that camping is still like...work. We've eliminated the first physically demanding step, packing, by keeping one of our SUVs loaded with every item of camping gear we need at all times. It sits in the driveway packed tight with a full tank of gas and ready to go on a whim. We can be on the road less than thirty minutes from the time we decide to go.
Packing, however, is only one-third of the battle. Even with modern, easy to set up tents and simple to assemble chairs, cook tables, grills, stoves, and porta-potty it takes a lot of physical effort to get a camp set up. The effort it requires makes us feel as if we've just added twenty hours to the work week we're trying to escape to recover from! It's something we're not willing to give up though. Sitting out at night in a place so dark and wild you can still see the stars is worth the effort.
So what other activities can we take up to appease the mind and spare the body? Winter is easy. We're both avid hunters and out in the field at least every other weekend. There's always work to be done on the house, remodeling to exterior repair, but again that becomes like work. Searching out yard and estate sales can be fun and very rewarding but, though we have a good income, we still need to be careful. We make the hour and a half trip out to the in-laws often and it really is nice to sit and talk with them and often attend church with them.
It has always been my opinion that human beings age in three very distinct, and often contradictory ways.
CHRONOLOGICALLY- the most obvious based on the date of our birth.
PHYSICALLY- based on the deterioration of our health, especially in relation to the musculoskelatal system
EMOTIONALLY- the effect emotional stress has on the physical body
It turns out that finding activities that socially fit the first, work around the second, and effect the third in a positive manner is really damn hard! The side of me that refuses to grow up pushes me often to do things my body pays for shortly after. I wear my baseball cap backwards, I often wear my combat boots unlaced, and I still drive around with the car windows down and the stereo cranked up as high as it can go. The only difference now is that I've gone from doing so in an old Ford Pinto to an Escalade.
So for now we'll keep researching new ideas. We'll argue and pout and glare. We'll go on out there and try new things that will leave us battered and bruised and exhausted and in need of direction to the closest Emergency Room. Come Monday we'll make up, shrug, and begin looking for new adventures.
...but I STILL don't see what's wrong with BOWLING, and I was NOT rolling my eyes!