Armchair Peregrinations


October 26, 1998

It's amazing to me how little some things change as we get older. I'm always thinking that maybe I look younger than I am, but I feel and think of myself as much older. The interesting thing about this is that I've been viewing myself this way for many years, since high school probably. Today, as I inch toward 50, reading those humorous books about turning 40 seems like ancient history, and that 40th birthday was quite a milestone and cause for a good bit of jesting from my co-workers at the time, including an over-the-hill type of birthday cake and black balloons. All in the name of fun. Something to gently mock the deadly serious passage of time.

This weekend, I decided to take a walk around Colonial Lake, and started out as usual, only to make it half way before having to return home. I was just too tired and exhausted. I got home that night and could barely get out of my recliner chair (This journal should really be called "Recliner chair peregrinations"). Just all the lack of sleep and busyness catching up with me in a big way.

Earlier in the week, I couldn't help but notice the joggers and bicyclists making their way across the Connector. It has rather imposing uphill and downhill gradients as it rises above the Ashley River and then makes its way down along a stretch about a mile long. I see people huffing and puffing across. They must be miserable. Just doing it for their "health." Meantime, they're breathing in all the fumes from the traffic and just enjoying themselves thoroughly from the looks of it. What body shapes and sizes! A regular carnival of exercise merrymakers.

Then there was the teenager who was running on the opposite side from the geezers. He was flying across that stretch of bridge as on the wings of Mercury. Youthful. Fleet of foot and aware of it, too. The out-of-shapes wrecks don't seem to care what they look like, however.

What I'm saying is, you can't turn back the hands of time. Youth has the advantage, no matter how the exercise mavens try to rationize it. They have the wind, the stronger hearts, the naturally leaner physiques.

Trouble with me is that I don't know if I ever really considered myself young. When I was 29 and living in Columbia, I guess I thought I was some kind of sage, looking at life from the wizened perspective of my advanced years. College students seemed impossibly young to me at that time. You can imagine how they seem now. I had put some very bad experiences behind me, so that is partially why I felt the way I did, for I truly had aged mentally and emotionally. But at least I had the better part of my life still ahead of me. Now I'm very definitely on the other side of that equation.

This is what I wrote in my journal in May 1980: "Was on campus [University of South Carolina] for at least a short time every day this week. The old "Horseshoe" area (the original campus) is so beautiful this time of year. Great trees in a park-like area with students and others constantly coming and going. I like to just sit and observe the passing parade. Again, I'm struck forcibly with the idea of fleeting youth as I watch the college students in groups or singly, throwing frisbees or lying in the sun. Frisbee throwing is such a great spring pasttime in the afternoons. I love to sail them myself. It is such a youthful game or diversion, but I really can't run around after them like I once could. It is entrancing to see the limber and graceful movements of students as they spin and leap and cast themselves into the air to catch those little plastic disks. I'm caught in a carefree interlude, ripe for moody ponderances on the flight of time. Here are these students in the prime of life. What use would they have for such ruminations?"


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