Feeling My Age

Every now and then, I look in the mirror and begin to feel my age. I’m no longer ten years old, when dreams of becoming a Major League baseball player or NASA astronaut were still possible, if unlikely. I know, for instance, that I am pretty much past the point of competing with twenty-somethings at a baseball tryout. Playing shortstop for the New York Yankees is no longer in the cards (which I why I wrote a story about a fictional Hall of Fame pitcher a few years back).

Sometimes, staring into the mirror, I wonder if I will ever get into shape again. It seems an uphill battle. I’ve grown to despise working out for the sake of working out, and would much prefer some kind of practical activity (wood-splitting comes to mind) from which I can derive both exercise and useful material. But where’s the time?

That’s why I was delighted by an article I read in the February issue of Down East magazine last night. (I love Maine, we often visit during the summers–summahs–like true summahpeople, and I’ve subscribed to Down East for several years now as a way have having a bit of Maine with me all year round.) The article, “Ocean’s 7” by Will Grunewald is well-worth reading. It’s about Pat Gallant-Charette, and her efforts at completing the Ocean 7 challenge–7 different open water marathon swims that few people have managed to complete.

What I found most remarkable about the story is that Gallant-Charette really didn’t get started with this kind of swimming until she was 47 years old. She competed in her first Peaks challenge at 48, and for a time, held the record as the oldest person to swim the English Channel. When she attempts the final of her Ocean 7 challenges in New Zealand, she’ll be 71.

This came across as something of a relief to me. It told me that age matters much less than will-power. I can sometimes summon the will-power to do something when I really want to, and knowing that made me feel better about looking in the mirror, and at my 47th birthday, looming this March.


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