Aging Gracelessly

For the past year, I’ve been playing basketball on Tuesday nights and racquetball on Wednesday. Occasionally I’ll play basketball on Friday mornings, but not consistently. Two days of strenuous exercise is about all my body can take right now. If I lost some more weight, maybe I could sneak in another day or two which is my plan. But that’s a few months off.

It’s easy to come up with excuses for why I shouldn’t play basketball. I have a weak ankle that I’ve rolled half a dozen times. My big toe is in constant pain for two days after I play. And last year I sustained a back injury that didn’t subside until I gave up all athletics for two months. I’ve broken bones and ripped off my knee cap playing soccer in the rain when I slid over a sprinkler. Yet those felt like a paper cut compared to the back pain.  onesie

I wish I could say I always feel better after I play. I supposed I feel better knowing that I got in some high intensity exercise. But my body creaks and aches until Tuesday rolls around again and the court calls my name. I just can’t turn down a game of basketball no matter how hard I try. I love the game although I’m a very average player for how much I’ve played.

When I was in college, I would jog downtown to the Deseret Gym from the University of Utah. It was only a couple of miles, but then I’d play basketball for two to three hours. Four to six days a weeks. I can’t fathom doing that today.

Sports can be deceptive. My mind tells me that I should be able to drive the full length of the court and weave my way into the lane and knock down a jumper. I can picture myself doing that because I was able to it for so many years. Now, I’ll defer to a younger player to bring the ball up the court while I search for an open spot behind the three point line. I’m the Rasheed Wallace of the community gym. I’m the guy that doesn’t look like he could throw the ball in the ocean. But I can knock down a three if left unguarded. More than once I’ve heard opposing players say, “No way is that old guy going to beat us”. 

This got me thinking that maybe my mind is not aging at the same rate as my body. My mind can recall the days of playing day after day along with the moves and shots I took for so many years. I wish my mind would sync up with my body in that sense.

Two weeks ago I decided to take up a less demanding sport in golf which I’ve not played in years. I woke up early to hit a bucket of balls at the driving range in preparation for the round my friend scheduled two days later. Given how long it’s been since I played, I was thrilled with how well I hit the ball. I felt like I was turning back the clock, and that maybe, I’d found a sport that I could perform as well at 42 as I did at 24.

Until I woke up the next morning with acute pain in my thumb from holding the club incorrectly.

I wonder if I should buy myself a jumpsuit and a pair of Mephistos and take up mall walking.

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