So, I am out running the trails tonight and I see an old dog ahead of me plodding his way behind his master who is running ahead of me. All of a sudden, the old dog cuts up into the woods and cuts a corner and the next thing you know, he is ahead of his master. I made a remark to the owner how smart the old dog is and he said that he did that the very first day that they ran. Age and treachery can sometimes beat youth and skill. The old dog validated something for the 59 year old kid. You can take a short cut or cut the corner and there is no law against it.
Toby Keith says,” I ain’t as good as I once was, but I’m as good once as I ever was.” I love that line because sometimes you can shock some young people. Maybe you make that mountain bike climb in pretty good time and even perhaps still put some of your younger riding friends in the hurt locker. Not all the time and youth is served in athletics. But every once in a while, you feel good, you had a good night’s sleep, you ate well, you had your coffee strategically in the morning, and brother, you climbed that hill better than the average Joe. Maybe you are skiing and the conditions are perfect, the sun is shining, and you rip off a couple of high speed arcs and raise a few eyebrows. Some young guns come up to you in the lift lines and maybe say,” You old dudes can still rip em.” Not all the time, not in all conditions, but just once, you might be as good as you ever were.
I used to love my father in law’s line to his two sons when I was first married to their sister. My father in law was a semi-pro baseball player and played in the Army. He was a pretty good high school athlete and challenged the two lumps to a race between the telephone poles. He used to say,” Let’s go pole to pole.” They laughed and abused him, but you know what, they never took him up on it. The point is barring something catastrophic, if you keep yourself in reasonable shape, eat well, sleep well and take your exercise seriously, there is no reason that age should get in the way. You don’t quit playing because you get old, you get old because you quit playing. I saw my pal Lon Sonick out in the woods the other day with a big smile on his face riding his mountain bike with studded tires on the snow covered trails. Lon is ten years older than me and he looks like he is still in his 40’s. A bunch of guys out at Mt. Rose in Tahoe have been riding motocross and skiing since they were 16 years old. They are all in their 60s now and ski like banshees down the chutes of Mt. Rose. They just keep on doing it.
Mindset is everything. I look around my office and see all younger people. They call us the “legacy” people and I sit with the IT group and it sounds like a foreign language to me. The key is to stay current and don’t let technology pass you by. I killed my I-Phone the other day and had to get a replacement. I frantically was calling our IT guy Bill East to help me get it set up but with Bill’s instructions and a little patience, I was able to transfer all the information and redo my apps that I use. My friend JR gave me a portable cell phone charger the other day as a Christmas gift and I was amazed at how convenient that is. I never liked Super Mario or Pac Man and my son’s X-Box Live mystifies me especially the time he spends on it. But he probably thinks the time I spend skiing in the rain or riding a mountain bike is equally ludicrous. It is a young person’s world alright but if you keep up, you can still learn a lot. And…………if they listen a little bit, they can benefit from your experience. Its all good.
I am headed towards the fourth quarter of life. I don’t dwell on that but games are usually won or lost in the fourth quarter. Guts, determination, cunning, and character are what win races in the end, and win games in the fourth quarter. I will have a great quiver of skis, a new mountain bike, a tuned up road bike,and all the clothes needed to enjoy that fourth quarter to the fullest. Positive attitude will never waver, but also, I will focus on what really is important in that fourth quarter. Experience has led me to some conclusions which concentrate on what really wins the game or wins the prize. Kindness to people, a caring serving spirit, a focus on my faith, a love for my family, are really what matter and win the prize in the end. And you can never lose your sense of humor. I lost some good friends this year. Two guys to a heart attack and one guy to cancer. But as I ride the chairlift, run or ride, I laugh thinking about them because I can see Charlie skiing the Heavenly powder, Larry telling him that he needs to work on his turns, and Chip telling them both to take up bowling. That thunder I will hear this summer will tell me that Chip won out on that discussion. So, if you are like the 59 year old kid, get into the game and enjoy that fourth quarter. The game will be won or lost on your efforts. Thanks for reading.