Muscle Memory

at 11:35 PM

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.