You won’t read this in any of the medical journals, but here is a tip from the curmudgeon that may help to explain some things we all experience if we live long enough.
The problem with getting older is that various parts of our body don’t all age at the same rate.
This observation occurred to me while I was resting between bouts of agony as I tried to straighten up the other day.
I had been wondering what I had done to deserve such misfortune. I thought back to algebra class, where the instructor told us you could solve any problem by plugging the data into the correct formula.
The equation that I came up with was: throwing bags of solar salt around with a cavalier attitude on Monday = a demolished lower back on Wednesday.
That was when I realized the parts of our bodies don’t age at the same rate.
When I was a young man, I moved a lot of freight. I am familiar with the correct way to lift things, using good mechanics and lifting with the legs rather than the back.
I know these things, but I didn’t do any of that stuff Monday. I was in a hurry, so I just grabbed the bags and tossed them into the mobile command vehicle, and when I got back to the bachelor pad, I grabbed them again, took them to the utility room, and dumped them in the hopper.
When I say I know the correct way to lift, I don’t mean to suggest I have always done it that way. I certainly didn’t on Monday. The difference and this is an important difference is that one can get away with things in one’s twenties that one cannot get away with in one’s fifties.
That is how I know the parts of our bodies age at different rates. In my mind, I am still a young man capable of anything.
It is a perversity of nature that, when we are young, not only do we have the energy and enthusiasm to do whatever comes to mind, but we are physically able to do so with no serious consequences.
My head may still be young, but my back definitely isn’t.
As a result, when I start casually throwing 40-pound bags of salt around without paying attention to proper lifting techniques, there are consequences, and they are serious.
I suppose that is why young people tend to feel invincible. In many cases, they can do whatever they want without repercussions.
There is a statute of limitations, however.
Our bodies, though tolerant, have limits. At some point they must say to themselves, “OK, we’ve given you several decades worth of second chances, but since you apparently aren’t getting the message, we’re going to give you some discomfort to help you remember you aren’t a kid anymore.”
The next time we go out and do something stupid, our bodies snap into action and we end up like I did on Wednesday, bent like a paper clip, with sharp knives jabbing me in the back every time I tried to stand up straight, causing muscle spasms of epic proportions.
The same applies if we try to eat (or drink) the way we did in the halcyon days of our youth.
It might seem like a good idea at the time, but eventually, our stomach will unleash a plague of dyspepsia, giving us an impression of having swallowed a sackful of bobcats, and reminding us we have used up all our warnings.
The head is still young, but the stomach has aged, and not very gracefully, as a result of the abuse it has taken over the years.
I suppose this difference in the way the parts of our bodies age is probably a good thing.
We need our heads to feel young and optimistic.
If our heads felt as run down as the rest of our bodies sometimes do, we might never get out of bed in the morning.
On the other hand, if the other parts of our bodies didn’t age more quickly, and kick up a fuss when we push too hard, we might continue to carry on the way we did when we were young, engaging if risky, if not flat out dangerous, behavior.
I suppose the pain we feel is a mechanism of self preservation. It is nature’s way of keeping us in line.
If we tried to go on forever burning the candle at both ends as well as in the middle, our luck would eventually run out.
Who knows? Maybe these little reminders from my body will eventually make me smarter, so I don’t do stupid things like throwing bags of salt around carelessly.
If my head was both young and wise, there is no telling what I might accomplish.