I read the other day that April 11, 1954 was the most boring day since 1900. It was determined to be so because on that day nothing significant happened. That is to say, there wasn’t anything to write about; no famous person was born/died, no war started, no pile-up on the interstate, not a single noteworthy thing happened. The US population at that time was about 165 million, so to accept that nothing unusual happened on that day seems a little farfetched. I was roaming this planet as a 13-year-old on that date, but for the life of me I cannot remember anything about it. I had a lot of boring days at that age so that easily explains why it didn’t stand out. I do remember that during that month President Eisenhower authorized the creation of the US Air Force Academy in Colorado. Somewhere around that time Roger Bannister (England) ran a single mile in less than 4 minutes. It was also during that timeframe that I began to realize that girls were more than playmates. That was the age that I started believing that girls brought more to the plate than us guys. Young boys have a tendency to shove others around, young girls encourage them to act better, to care about others and to stop their destructive habits. I think I fell in love with just about every young female around me during that time. In about two weeks my romantic delusion was over and I moved on to being madly in love with the next young lady. Ah, April 11, 1954 may have been a most boring day for many, but for me, I suspect I was madly in love.
I have a small workout area setup in the poolroom upstairs and for the longest time I was up there working out every Tuesday, Thursday & Saturday for an hour. Then as I got older that schedule started to slide and eventually I stopped. I don’t know why I’d let something drop out of my life that was so responsible for much of my good health. Well, I recently noticed some decline in my body strength so I decided it was time for me to restart my strength training. The first couple of sessions were kinda hard for me. I would wake up in the morning sore all over and wondering how much more my sad old body could take. But then a magical thing happened, I’m upstairs working out and meeting all my exercise repetition goals and all of a sudden, I’m feeling really strong and healthy again. I have loud country music blaring from my iPod, my muscles are pumped, and everything was right with the world. Each time I meet a repetition goal, I’m fist pumping the air like I just hit a home run, or ran a touchdown. I think I have started reversing the feelings I had before, that I was getting old, my body was losing a lot of its abilities, and there was little I could do about it. A lot of my vigor for life has returned and I feel good about the future. I’m just glad I realized the potential for improving the aging process before it was too late. But, with all that said, I believe Albert Einstein said it best: “Try not to become a person of success, but rather try to become a person of value.”
Jerilyn and I attended a seminar the other day on aging. Being a little “long in the tooth”, I felt it may enlighten me on what to expect as I get older. I was surprised when the guest speaker informed us that we are at age 70, personality wise, what we were at age 20. So, if I’m a grumpy old man now then, perhaps, I was a grumpy young man. I don’t know if I’m entirely comfortable with that statement. I’m of the opinion that if you had a life filled with a constant stream of problems, you could be much less of a man than you were at age 20. Of course, on average, her statement in all likelihood is true. She also criticized the popularly accepted notion that “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks”. She proudly proclaimed that you can learn as easily at age 70 as any age before that. That made me feel pretty good. I had previously devised a method to determine when my mind starts to slip: I learned to say the alphabet backwards, count backwards from 100, list the 20 most populous states and their population, and list all 44 presidents and the years they served. The theory being that if at any time doing these things it becomes a challenge; I would know my brain cells were departing for a better place to thrive. Ursula Le Guin said it aptly: “It is good to have an end to journey towards, but it is the journey that matters in the end.”
Jerilyn and I took a bus tour a while back with a bunch of senior citizens (55 in fact). We travelled down to Myrtle Beach to watch some shows, eat a lot of food, enjoy good company, and walk on the beach. The bus seated 55 people so it was standing room only. Unfortunately, two sets of the seats faced each other and had a table between them, so the tour director needed 4 volunteers to ride in the seats that faced backwards to the direction we were travelling. We volunteered to be part of that group, thinking it can’t be that bad? Well, it was! What we didn’t think about was that four people would be sitting across from each other just a few short feet apart. And that, my dear friends, was the problem. There wasn’t much space under that table and four aging legs and feet were jockeying for space for 9½ hours on the way down and on the way back home. Two ladies, about our age, sat across from us and one (Dot) was unusually quiet. Trying to make her more comfortable, I leaned across the table and said softly to her, “Dot, I have allocated you 500 words for this trip and you have used them all up, so you can’t say anything else until we arrive in Myrtle Beach”. She looked kinda puzzled and said to me, “I don’t understand, what do you mean?”. Looking straight into her eyes I said, “You’ve been too talkative, I can’t get a word in edgewise and I’m tired of it.” A big smile spread over her face and she instantly became a part of our effort to make this bus trip as interesting as it could be. By the time we arrived back home, a lot of interesting conversation was had by all, and a dull bus rolling down the highway was a thing of the past. See, all it took was a little effort to bring forth a lot of interesting banter. Aldous Huxley said: “After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.” I think I disagree with that statement a little, good conversation ranks pretty high in my estimation.
We have a bird bath in our front yard that was in need of maintenance. It’s a heavy, stately looking structure, setting atop a nice pedestal, but badly in need of having mildew and flaking paint removed. I placed it into my cart and wheeled it around to my “Man Cave” for the needed repair work. After a lot of scraping, washing and grinding, I had it ready for a new coat of primer and then the finishing coat of yellow paint. As all this was taking place, I was listening to my iPod and a book on tape that I downloaded entitled, “A History of US: The First Americans, by Joy Hakim”. I normally listen to an audiobook while doing something simple and refurbishing this birdbath was the perfect time. This is my 459th book on tape, so you can tell that I have a lot of simple tasks. The really odd tale here is that I can recall exactly what I was doing when a particular part of a book was being read. I know this because, on occasion, I have checked out the same book twice and when a certain conversation was described, I recalled precisely what I was doing when that was read. Of course, I have no idea why that useless piece of trivia was stored in some distant place in my mind to be recalled for no apparent reason. Makes me wonder what else is in there that’s not needed and who, exactly, is in charge of storing those things. Certainly not me, I did not give any instructions as to wanting to remember those things. Anyway, back to the bird bath thing. That task was completed over a two-day period and it proudly sits in our front yard beckoning the chickadees, bluebirds, titmouse, blue jays, woodpeckers, etc., to fly in and take a sip of our fresh water. If they should happen to fly over our house to the other side, we have yet another birdbath and plenty of food for them to eat.
For all the young people that read this, I say to you, this is some of what you will be doing when you get old, and if you are fortunate, you will enjoy it as much as I do……Tommy