As I wrote the other day, I still feel young at heart, so please don’t read this as some mid-life freak out about realizing my own mortality. I’ve known my mortality quite well since I was 16, and the acceptance of death and dying has long been settled in my heart. However, I’ve come to realize recently that my body is weakening and will never again return to its former strength. Until just a couple of years ago, I felt as if physically I could still do most of the things I had been able to do as a young man. Now, I can tell that the strength I once had will never return.
I’m still fairly strong and still have a decent level of endurance, but I’ve come to accept that the muscle in my lower back that I first hurt lifting weights at 15 and then re-injured playing golf at 29 will never fully heal. My legs will always have this dull ache; my grip, once ferociously solid like an iron rod, is now more like an aluminum bar. For most of my life I felt as if I could move any physical object put before me. Now, I feel my limitations. Coming to terms with my waning strength is not easy because I’ve always defined myself in part as a very strong man, and I’ve rarely felt threatened because of that power in my legs and core. Now, I’m not so certain I could defend myself against a young buck, and that’s a hard thing to face.
On the other hand, I feel healthier than I can ever remember. I’m eating better and taking better care of myself than at any time in my life, so even though my strength is diminishing, my physical self feels good. It’s an odd combination to feel myself losing strength on one side but also to feel my health improving on the other. Obviously, overall health is more important than physical strength, but I would be lying if I said that I didn’t miss how strong I used to be. It’s not easy to let go of visions of myself as I was in my youth, but I’m learning how, and the amazing part is that the more I let go of those old visions, the more I like the man I am today.