A hardcore hit

So, what’s middle age got to do with it, anyway? Those of us who’ve gotten a second wind in athletic pursuits over 40 don’t want to slow down, dammit, we’re going faster and harder now. Trying to prove something? Lots of people will toss out the idea of “midlife crisis” but maybe we’re enjoying pushing a little harder on the limits because we’re mentally tougher now, having been through a bit of what life can throw at us: raising kids, changing careers, family crises, illnesses, divorce. And maybe we know this level of physical activity won’t last forever but we’re going to enjoy it while we can. It’s sweeter now.

And then this happens:

a friend’s spine that’s been pinned back together

Yup, that’s an inside look at someone near and dear to me, someone who crashed during a pretty hardcore bike accident. Those are, in fact, rods and screws holding her spine together. And wow, does it give me pause.

My initial reaction to the accident was, “damned unlucky to break a wrist with so much of the season yet to go.” Then the MRI results were added to the news and it got worse. And even when visiting in the hospital and seeing her in a Gladiator-looking body cast afterward it didn’t really sink in. There are months of limited mobility ahead, perhaps she will return to some level of normal activity by mid-winter, I was told. Yet nothing really sank in until I saw the x-ray. It actually gave me nightmares, flashbacks to all of my ungraceful near-crashes and endos that had thus far resulted in nothing worse than bruises and palpitations. What if my luck ran out too?

I’ve always been an advocate of the rope swing approach: jump and the net will appear. But maybe this changes things a bit. I’m still in shock, really, but wondering if my significant other is right when he says to be gentler to my joints and bones by emphasizing the lower-impact and less-dangerous things in life. I can no longer write his advice off as irrelevant because I’m younger; maybe I even have more at stake.

The shock I’m experiencing could be an infusion of wisdom that had been lacking. I can still enjoy what I do but I can never erase that image from my mind, and that’s going to govern the speed of my wheels and whether I jump headlong into uncharted territory. That’s a gift I didn’t ask for but will not refuse.


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One Response to “A hardcore hit”

  1. The Landy Says:

    I hear what you are saying, but personally I don’t think about it as an age thing, no matter your age you run the same risks of this type of accident or injury. Besides, if you didn’t know how old you were, how old would you be?

    And in the words of Helen Keller “Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in name, nor do the children of man as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.”

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