Saturday, July 14, 2012

All about pacing.....

It wasn't a problem for a long time.....decades, actually.

When it became a problem, I didn't recognize it for years.

When I DID recognize it, I attempted to ignore it.

Finally, I accepted it with gritted teeth.

As we age, we find that our minds can outpace rings around our energy levels. At least that's the way it's been for me. In the morning, it sounds great to plan on attending an evening gathering with friends. Sure, why not? I say when I accept the invitation. That sounds like fun, and I like the people going, so count me in.

Oops. By about 4 PM, I realize my mistake. I've worked all day, intellectually at the office and then  physically at the gym, so I'm exhausted from head to toe and back again.

I was stymied by that for a lot of years, feeling as if I was exhibiting the "stick in the mud" mentality I was so often accused of in my 20s and 30s. (For good reason at that point in time, but the person inhabiting this skin isn't the same one who left the building a long time ago and I don't  like to be reminded of those days. I get a tad cranky when I even get a whiff of that phrase today.)

But then I realized that my energy  reserves were no longer at any "stick in the mud" levels (oh, the irony of it all, right?). It wasn't that I was sticking anywhere, to anything. My body simply couldn't keep up any longer. My life has expanded in ways that are often unrecognizable to me as I have aged. I dance, I engage in interval training that involves weight lifting, I seek out new adventures every month. I'm a lot more fun and I have fun in ways that I hadn't even dreamed of when I was decades younger.

I even hate writing this. It hurts. But reality must be faced, and this is it: We have to learn to pace ourselves as we move into the latter decades. (I did NOT say as we "get old," I hope you noticed that.) What that means on a daily basis is that I must view the events of the day, and into the evening, from a longer perspective than my younger years demanded.

If I work all day, hit the gym in the afternoon, and have some writing to do at home before I slide between my sheets to read before sleep, then I can't schedule a dance lesson that particular day. Or I have to change the gym to tomorrow, and dance today. And forget going out at night if I dance OR exercise within the same 24-hour block of day. Not going to happen. 

Yes, it's a hard reality to swallow. But those of you who are younger than me, heed my words here. You may think you are immune to what all of us ultimately face, whether it's cellulite in places you never even thought about or flagging energy levels. You're not. Sure, you can pay to have the lumps removed or buy pricey energy drinks, but the reality is still evident.

Thoreau spoke of keeping pace with our companions, and something about drums. I don't need to stay abreast of those folks. It just takes more energy to keep that drummer in sight at all.

If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.
Henry David Thoreau

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