I’ve realized that my body can no longer handle the type of skiing I enjoy: trees, bumps, and un-groomed surfaces. The last time I went skiing I tried very hard to stay on groomed runs and avoid the moguls, but I got bored and ventured over to untracked snow. The result was a twisted knee that is my constant reminder of the mis-match between my desires and my age.
We made the long trek out to Sun Valley to spend Christmas with my mother-in-law and her boyfriend, known to my daughter as Gramps. He had a heart attack a couple of months ago so we are out here to help him deal with the same issue: the mismatch between who you’ve been and what your body will allow you to do.
Gramps is the prototypical outdoorsman. He was a skiing instructor here in Sun Valley for over 15 years. He is an avid horseman who, in his 70s, took up cutting as a hobby. For those non-horsemen out there, that is when you use your horse to separate individual cattle from a herd. It requires lightning reflexes, expert control of your horse, and a level of fitness that puts me to shame. Now he has to deal with being in a body that doesn’t allow him to do those things.
He is twenty years ahead of me and while I may be here to help, I struggle with the same thoughts. If I can’t physically do things, help people, and be an adventurer, who am I?
In an ignorant but brilliant decision, we happened to watch Scent of a Woman last night. This classic film (well, if 1992 qualifies as classic) gives insight as to how another man struggles with the same issue. Al Pacino portrays a retired, disabled vet who wants to have one last pleasure fling and then kill himself. In the end, its a young boarding school student who is able to change his outlook and give him a reason to live.
Without getting any deeper, in many ways children are a major motivation for sticking around. I know that Evie keeps me young and, perhaps, keeps my life choices erring on the side of safety. I hope she does the same thing for Gramps.