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By Ray Pestrong
Close your eyes and picture your age. How old are you in that image?
Most older people see themselves 20 to 30 years younger than they are, and recently I came face to face with an unfortunate dramatization of my distorted reality.
I've always loved handball, though I haven't played for a few years. While in a park, I noticed some teenagers attempting to play the game, and the teacher in me had to give them a few pointers. They were delightful, and it was wonderful hitting the ball with them. Then, I asked if they'd like to play a game of doubles, which doesn't have to be that strenuous.
What was I thinking? These were three healthy teenagers, maybe 17 years old. I hadn't played in years. Had I lost my mind? Was my memory also suffering the ravages of time? My internal persona had asked to play, but it was my external 75-year-old body that would do the work.
I guess you can see what's coming. They hit a shot I should never have tried to retrieve, but muscle memory overrode what minimal sense I still had, and I lunged forward. In a half-second I realized that: 1.) I had no hope of getting to the ball on one bounce, 2.) I had completely lost control of my body, 3.) it was stupid of me to attempt to get to the ball, and, 4.) I was going to smash into the wall. Time slowed down. I felt the loss of bodily control as an out-of-body experience, and I became a spectator to my own demise.
The shock of seeing me hit the wall will be short-lived for the young men, but for me the memory of the loss of control of my body, will last a long time. Hopefully, its bruising reality will spare me future foolishness.
But I'm not counting on it.
With a Perspective, I'm Ray Pestrong.