Tag Archive 'aging'

Jan 10 2012

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The Distant Summit

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Like many people, I am hypersensitive to the march of time whenever a new year begins. We switch out an old calendar for a new one, then try to get used to the novel digit. That’s “12,” not “11,” though some of us will be making this mistake well into February. The clock moves too fast for us.

Seems like the older I get, the busier I become. Not quite sure what that’s all about but I’ve noticed that I’m not the only one. A lot of older people I know complain about not having enough time, while many younger folks have enough of it to just “hang out.”

Last weekend my wife Judy and I visited her half brother who is well into his last days. I talk with my parents weekly to stay updated on their ailments. Recently I learned that a friend of mine is confined to a wheelchair. Others have their issues. I can count on one hand the number of friends my age who can hike a whole day with me. I’m getting the message loud and clear but don’t like it. Nothing in our youth-obsessed culture is helping me prepare for the inevitable. “Stay healthy,” the medical professionals advise, and that’s the end of it. Meanwhile, I keep getting older . . . as everyone does.

A couple months back, while I was hiking Wheeler Mountain, I looked over at Mount Pisgah with its sheer cliffs rising dramatically from Lake Willoughby. A couple decades ago, while I was working as a hiking guide, I slowly crept up that mountain with a 75-year-old man while the rest of our group dashed ahead. It took forever but eventually the septuagenarian and I reached the top. I marveled at it. To this day that remains the most inspiring thing I’ve ever witnessed. And I have it in my head to do the same thing and hike that mountain when I turn 75. That is, if I’m still upright and able to do so.

I do not so much fear death as I do the prospect of wasting precious years. I live like a condemned man nowadays. “How can I make best use of the time remaining?” I keep asking myself. Maybe that’s why I’m so busy. There’s no time to waste. My days are numbered. That distant summit isn’t so distant any more.

 

 

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