COLUMN: Gettin’ old blues a sad song to sing

NANAIMO: Battling age is like battling bureaucracy. The older you get, the tougher it is.

While channel surfing recently, I stumbled on comedian Lewis Black’s stand up routine about aging.

He’d just turned 62 (the original broadcast aired in 2010) and he took issue with things people say about getting older that aggravate him, like, “I’m 64 and I’ve never felt better in my life.”


If this is the best you’ve felt, what the hell was wrong with you in your 20s?, he asked.

I’m in my 50s, the decade when you start griping about age’s affects creeping in, like during the bike ride my wife, a friend and I – all in our 50s – were on recently.

Part way along anyone standing on the side of the road would have overheard the following chorus of complaints:

“My shoulders hurt,”; wife.

“My knee hurts,”; friend.

“My back hurts,”; me.

“Getting old sucks,”; all of us.

“Yeah, but you have to admit it’s saying something when you can go out for a long ride and the only thing that doesn’t hurt is your butt,”; wife.

The best thing to do as you get older is keep moving or you’ll seize up physically and mentally. The trick is to keep deluding yourself into believing you really are as young as you were, say, 30 years ago – a challenge when you work a desk job and it takes 30 seconds to straighten up and hobble to the bathroom after you’ve sat typing for an hour or so.

A friend and I were talking about longevity over coffee the other day. How we’re living longer through medical advancements, plus a daily lucky roll of the dice against fatal mishaps.

Genetics factor in the equation too.

I figure for the most part I won that lottery.

Not because I’m the smartest person around – ask my wife and employers – and I might not be the best looking guy either – although I hear opinions differ on the subject – but because I haven’t had much of anything go too haywire, yet.

My Swedish grandmother made a considerable contribution to my looks and build. The big chest and shoulders are good.

The belly, not so much. I’ve battled it most of my adult life, winning the odd skirmish when I’ve worked jobs that required lots of steady hard physical labour.

Last year, training for the Tour de Rock, I thought 5,000 kilometres of pedaling my butt – and some other bits off – would take care of the belly. I lost a bunch of weight and combined inches, and built muscle. Even the belly leaned out, but unlike several tires, it never went flat.

How is this age-related?

I have a theory, well a hypothesis really, that young fat cells, like young guys, lack experience and are too quick to jump into the fight before they’ve thought through the consequences of giving up their stored energy.

But those old wizened ones, that have lurked around for 30 years or more, have learned how to dig in and survive diets, healthy eating, even massive amounts of prolonged exercise. They trick the body into believing they’re somehow indispensable – sort of like bureaucrats.

Left unchecked, they become a drain on the system and cause a whole array of potential health, social and fashion issues.

The older you get, the tougher it gets to battle the bureaucracy, keep the bulge at bay and recuperate from strained muscles, bumps and bruises when you overdo it.

And the overdo it threshold seems to get lower each year.

A couple months back I tore a tendon in my left arm, not while riding a bike, but pulling on a wrench while preparing the bike the night prior to a ride around Denman and Hornby islands.

So, no mountain biking for me for a while. Just road rides and convincing myself that I’ve never felt better in my life.

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