As the Brothers Resume Their Journey, Uncle Joe Calls BS

Joe Writes . . . 

I’ve found a lovely spot for writing about getting older, here in front of the picture window in my living room. I can swivel the chair and look out over our lawn, with the sun just beginning to show itself over the trees on the left edge of my view. My neighbor, who flies an anti-Trump flag that reads “Any Functioning Adult 2020,” walks his little white dog out to retrieve yesterday’s mail. Linda and our little white dogs are still asleep. A doe strolls by, stopping to eat some gout weed under my neighbor’s tree; I wish the neighborhood herd would turn its attention to the invasive plants in our yard. The Amtrak train’s whistle is evocative of something romantic and far away. My pleasures this morning are simple and abundant . . . 

As we begin to emerge – rightly or wrongly – from The Great Isolation I’ve seen a few of my contemporaries report on social media that the greatest joy is in resuming their work-outs. They would have us believe that their physical prowess is undiminished, that they can plank or bike or lift weights just as well as ever and – man oh man – it’s so great to be setting personal records again. Uncle Joe calls bullshit.

We pay a physical price for getting older. The only way to avoid paying that price is to die. One can minimize the price by eating right, exercising, not smoking, abstaining from excess (that’s been hard for me over the years) and maintaining a positive outlook on life. Good inherited genes help, too. But time takes its toll, and at the end of the dance one always divvies up receipts with the band.

While I’m excited at the prospect of resuming our journey, I’m sobered by the reminder provided by the morning’s first ten steps. The first ten steps of every morning are painful. One knee is arthritic and inflexible. The other knee is ok most of the time, except when it isn’t. My brother and fellow-explorer has his own physical challenges. The first ten steps are a reminder that we need to get this done this year, in 2020. No more dilly-dallying. The sun’ll come up tomorrow, but there’s no guarantee any of us will be here to see it. Stuff happens.

So there’s a sense of urgency mixed with excited anticipation as the countdown to paddling continues. I miss the blue herons but it was hard enough to get in and out of the canoe two years ago; how much worse will it be now? When we started this project in 2016 it never crossed my mind that physical challenges might make it difficult to finish.

Our mother knew too much heartache in her life but was usually able to maintain an optimistic outlook. She was fond of saying, “You never know what might be around the next corner!”, her way of encouraging us not to give in to despair. She wanted us to believe that something wonderful was on the horizon. Her philosophy is worth celebrating but no amount of optimism can change the fact that 65-year-old knees and canoes are a problematic combination. There may be a metaphorical meadow around the next corner but I’m just as likely to be pushing a walker as skipping across its flower-strewn length.

I think everything’s gonna be alright, but please send prayers and positive energy our way should we be tempted to falter. As always, we’ll keep you informed of our progress. Que sera, sera. Bring it on!

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This entry was posted in Aging, health, Men, Michigan, rivers, Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to As the Brothers Resume Their Journey, Uncle Joe Calls BS

  1. Luann and David says:

    Uncle Joe, well done and well written! We look forward to seeing you in our bayou in August. Thank you for taking this life-journey for all of us. Happy paddling!
    Luann and David

  2. Great writing Joe! Love your observations!

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