Tuesday, December 4, 2018
You will hear those who say that age is only a number. They are wrong. Age is precisely a number.
I, who have always used my body hard, have never weighed more than I do now at age 77, am disappointed to see the changes time and gravity have made in my body.
My skin has lost elasticity.
I still wear 32” waist Levis, but my weight has moved south. Perhaps through bone loss.
I am fortunate in many ways, among them that I can still do what I do when seriously old.
Reinhold Messner and, if he lives, Alex Honnold, could not make their climbs at my age. Or for several decades younger. While what I do requires strength and agility, obviously not to the same degree as theirs. I like to believe the requirement of will is the same.
But I want to tell you, without in any way bragging, just reporting, it is possible to be filled with joy and strength and the desire to push hard against limits even when you are seriously old.
I sit warm and comfortable in Evanston, Illinois, far from the sea, before a fireplace, a crystal glass of Buffalo Trace at hand, an African woman, Sona Jobarteh, singing on the surround speakers, and I long to explode, to voyage out, to face Ocean as simply and directly as I have for decades. The wind and waves and masterpiece, GANNET—I like to believe we deserve one another—to sail on endlessly were that possible. I would not weaken—read ‘Sailing Toward Africa.’ If I could I would sail to the end of time.
I have never sought to inspire others, though some have told me I have inspired them. But I am willing to inspire others about old age: the numbers are ineluctable, but you can be old and formidable. You can find joy in old age. If time and chance have not compromised you too much, as for many they have, and if you have it in you, go as hard as you can as long as you can.