When I was younger, a tile floor of suitable dimensions likely would have summoned my inner chess player, and I'd adjust my gait to one suitable for a Knight's Tour: each step went to the opposite corner of a 2 x 3 rectangle. I can still do that, sort of, but with markedly less speed than before, and if I'm not careful and let's face it, I'm not I'll eventually fall out of sync with the tiles.

This sort of thing, I am given to understand, is inevitable: this old body simply doesn't have the [insert appropriate noun here] it used to, if indeed it ever did. It's not like I expect to be able to emulate Jack LaLanne, who at the age of 96 could probably kick my ass; still, if you grow up thinking you're just this side of indestructible, as rather a lot of us apparently have over the years, it's more than a little disturbing to discover that you're actually pretty damned fragile, all things considered, and not only are your days numbered, but the number of those days just might be diminishing.

More disturbing, to me anyway, is the possibility that I really can't do all that much about it. I'm smaller than I used to be about forty pounds lighter than I was back when I had knee surgery in ought-four, according to those high-zoot scales all the doctors seem to have these days but I don't feel any lighter, and I don't feel the least bit lithe. Admittedly, I have a dominant klutz gene and an occasional tendency toward vertigo, both of which remind me that I'd have been disqualified early on for the dance; then I look up at the wall, and my knee hurts. No, the other knee.

Some years back, our cultural arbiters seemed to have decided that brains were ultimately preferable to brawn, and it didn't occur to me at the time that said arbiters might have come up with that decision by dint of being on the low end of the brawn spectrum themselves, so I spent my afternoons in the library rather than in the gym. (Cynicism sometimes comes too late to do us any good.) And if I couldn't carry a bookcase across the room without removing its contents, well, at least I'd know what those contents are, right?

The path of least resistance, a path I've been known to favor over the years, would suggest that I accept, even embrace my limitations. Somehow this option doesn't actually appeal to me: while I can practice the fine art of laziness with the best of them, I have this morbid fear that at some point I'll be at Point A, Point B will beckon, and I won't be able to get there. So I keep moving, lest I become too sedentary for my own good. And if I seem to be lurching across the floor, don't prejudge: it might just be one of those Knights.

The Vent

  25 December 2010

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 Copyright © 2010 by Charles G. Hill