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Header Photo: Just an average hike on an average day in Red Canyon Country.



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Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Humbugs



From The Life of a Simple Man, by Emile Guillaumin: "A great weariness, physical and mental, overcame me. At every age there are periods of vexation when everyday miseries seem more intense, when everything conspires to sadden you, when you're weary of the life you lead. But in our declining years these impressions are more bitter and more painful. I was approaching my fifty-fifth year and my face was losing its last color; the white hairs multiplied in my beard and it had snowed heavily on my temples. I could no longer work so hard.  ...It's not good to think too much about your fate: it doesn't change anything and it makes you more unhappy."

Being on "restrictions," I've resorted to previous photos from holidays past in Lovely Ouray. It seems there is an unenviable trend going on in my later years besides the "snow" getting deeper about my temples. Breakdowns, both mental and physical, seem to happen during the holidays…the previous one being a herniated disc in my lower spine, and now a herniation in my groin. 

I've been fortunate to indulge many pleasures and passions in life. They didn't come as "gifts," we learned and earned them, just like most of you...standing in "line," waiting our turn, working hard and playing harder. The physical toll doesn't really begin to show up until later, which, for me, unfortunately, is now. If it's not bad luck, then I'm the sickest healthy person I know (sigh). Ye Gods, Mother was right after all, forewarning that I would live to regret "hard living," not the least of which were indiscretions during the 60's and 70's. 

But we are who we are; grey nosed dogs trying to do old tricks better suited for puppies. If that is taken from me, then please, go ahead and take me too. A lifelong athlete losing his physical abilities is akin to a scholar with oncoming symptoms of Alzheimer's. They see and feel it happening, they know where it ends, but theres not a damn thing that can be done about it. So we try to face aging with attitudinal dignity, but how many times can one say "It could be worse" before it rings hollow? It is a truth forced upon survivors, and like bad company, it revisits more and more as time continues its steadfast march. 

This Christmas morning I sit by a warm fire, amongst decorations, and  presents, eager to be unwrapped. Aromatic gifts of baked pumpkin pies and a roasting turkey scent the house…all courtesy of the finest woman a man could ever hope for. I count blessings and look for some light in my "holding cell," amused by the battle between positive and negative thoughts. "Mark! Soon enough, a surgeon will patch the hole in your abdomen, admonish you to try and live a kinder gentler lifestyle, and off you'll go to Arizona to recoup and rehab in sunshine and warmth." 

It's neither easy nor natural for me to be lazy. Bobbie will need to padlock the 29'er and encourage me to take up more passive pursuits like watercolor, maybe write more. But to an athlete, even an aging one, idleness is a sin. One needs to be able to sweat their Demons out on a good stiff trail. 

Until then I'll walk, to be sure...but I'll be dreaming of running, of grunting out long impossible hills on the old Gary Fisher and other forms of challenging amusement most deem torture…until the next breakdown puts me back on "Injured Reserve. "Why?" you ask. Let me answer with a question of my own. Recall the aging scholar. What do you think he would do if told that he could slow the advance of Alzheimer's by not using his brain?  

There is a saying, that "those who have tasted of every pleasure in life rarely look happy." What is left to stir one from lethargy and melancholy when the bucket list runs dry...the last dream fulfilled, the last wish granted? What fuels your need to live? 

Now if you will excuse me, I'm off to do battle with the Humbugs by scoring a few precious endorphins on a stationary bicycle, trying to remember, it could be worse

On that cheery note, Bobbie and I wish you the Merriest Holiday and New Year of your lifetime. Now get outdoors for a pre-feast hike, dream a new dream, and go easy on the eggnog :)).















26 comments:

  1. Laverne here:

    Mark, I will pray that this is just a "bump in the road" a slight setback for you, and you will be back at almost one hundred percent, before you know it....You are still young! And, God is good.

    Merry Christmas to you and Bobbie....loved your pictures today! So pure.....

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    1. Laverne,
      What's this "almost one hundred percent?" :)

      Delete
  2. I just read the book Until I Say Goodbye, by Susan Spencer-Wendel, a very inspirational story about living with ALS. Makes our "normal" senior aches and pains seem very trivial. But I am like you. Gotta go out and do something unless I absolutely can't!
    Enjoy your Christmas dinner! We will be riding our mountain bikes (sorry) and eating a homemade pizza for dinner. My kind of day!
    Gayle

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    Replies
    1. Well, ALS makes my problems shrink away…
      I envy you guys and your bike rides.

      Delete
  3. Bummer on the health issues ... aging ~ as has been said ~ is not for the weak. This is my 71st winter and I know it well ... even with its surprises ... I know it well.

    "My life is a just a bunch of "it seemed like a good idea at the time" strung together. dunno who said it ...

    Best of wishes for a wonderful 2014 and lots of nature ... fascination with nature keeps me from going batshit crazy.

    nature has been around in some form since .... forever ~ despite us humans trying to interfere ... just keeps on keeping on and I'm trying to follow suit...

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    1. Carolyn,
      From one Nature freak to another, Merry Christmas!

      Delete
  4. I share your thoughts on this subject. As the great Roseanne Roseannadanna would say, "Its always something...". Despite my best efforts it appears that I will continue to rot like a roast left out on the counter too long.

    But I will keep fighting it and hope to have you chasing me on a downhill trail on our mountain bikes 20 years from now with Boonie complaining about the scenery and Bobbie and Gayle cheering us up or at the very least changing our diapers.

    By the way, I really like pumpkin pie so enjoy a slice for me.

    Just to rub it in, we had a great ride today here at McDowell. I think you guys would love it.

    Jim

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jim,
      Ha! That's a mental image I can't get out of my head now.
      We have targeted McDowell…maybe this spring on the way to the ORGEE.

      Delete
  5. I just knew some of those activities of youth would bite me in the butt someday, and they are starting to. But hell, I'm not dead yet.
    I don't really think you'll be kept down forever from this latest bought of aging. So whine on. Or is that wine on?
    Merry Christmas to you both.

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  6. I've always heard these were the golden years! What's up with that?
    Beautiful pictures you shared! Thanks.


    ReplyDelete
  7. I have a bit of a different attitude to my declining abilities. I am thankful I had the opportunity to enjoy the things that are causing me trouble now. My world would be a much lesser place if I had never rappelled from helicopters. Had never fallen from my bike and torn two muscles off my upper arm bone. Had never been on that cliff edge near Yakima Washington where the edge broke from under me and my left hand grip on the root was all there was between me and rocks 500 feet below. It would have been a very dull life to have arrived at 67 with no remnants of previous adventures. I live for the old saying of sliding into the last day saying WOW what a ride! Then giggle and think well maybe one more time.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes! I think we need adventures like you describe to get us through the "dark ages" of life. Totally agree.

      Delete
  8. Mark. Hernia. Very minor. Back to. Great fun in no time. Prime time buddie. Walden creek Rev. Steve

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    Replies
    1. I hope you are right…taking enough time to heal will be the hardest part for me :(

      Delete
  9. My brother had a hernia at 30-something, so don't be cozying up with "Father Time" just yet! As long as you are able to walk, then maybe now would be a good time for the ORGEE so the rest of us could keep up with you cyborgs!

    Glad to hear you and Bobbie had a happy day complete with pie!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, I might be leading the PokeyMan groups :))
      Happy New Year to You in Mexico!

      Delete
  10. I must say, your photos of the snow and the sky are almost enough to make me consider real estate in Ouray. However, I then recall how much I hate cold weather. Being sidelined just sucks. This has been a terrible year for me and I'm really hoping that next year will be better. Here's to a successful procedure and warm weather in Arizona.

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    Replies
    1. Well, we just happen to have a couple of nice places for sale…
      I hope you are healing up well,
      mark

      Delete
  11. Laverne here:

    I am quite sure you will knock the hell out of that "almost" thing! Poor word choice on my part. (blame it on Santa) You may slow down for a while,....with your grit and with Bobbie by your side, you will be one hundred percent before you know it!

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  12. .....it ain't over by a long shot buddy,your going to the Center of the Universe next year. That bucket list may suddenly be crammed full of new adventures . So rest, recoup and do the physical therapy that they tell to do because your going to wish you had new legs when you get to Paris. While your taking this brief break (how is it possible to take a break when living in Ouray, I break a sweat just thinking about all the possibilities out your front door.). You might want to start a little research into cost of European travel though before you commit to some advanced planning and it's all available right on your computer. Oh, and how about taking a little time out to be grateful to the Universe for this fabulous life you have enjoyed, gratitude to a higher power pays big dividends.
    Ye'll the Eggnog is too sweet anyway.
    Going to the P O on Monday.
    Happy New Year to the both of you
    from Sonoma Co.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm looking forward to the book…
      I know that European travel is costly and crowded…more so than New York City. I will study on this.
      And I do appreciate the gifts in my life, but as a writer I feel compelled to tell the whole story :([
      Thanks Sonoma
      mark

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  13. I'm getting there...almost caught up!! What pristine surroundings! I hope to visit many of the western areas in the winter and do some snowshoeing and cross country skiing. Probably the best exercise!

    Happy New Year! Hope it is good to you!

    ReplyDelete

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