What’s your age?
On one of my trips I spent time in the beautiful nature of Croatia. Nature is breathtaking, the food is great and the people are so friendly, you’ve got to visit the place!
One morning I was hiking through one of the endless forests, together with a young guy who was my guide. At some point we bumped into a huge fence and, since going back wasn’t an option, the way forward was up; climb that fence!
The fence was almost three meters high yet not that hard to climb. My guide went first and I passed on our gear before I started to climb with my guide waiting on the other side. He must have been in his late twenties and super fit. I noticed that funny look on his face whilst I climbed down on the other side and then he asked me ‘the’ question: “How old are you”?
This wasn’t to just find out my age yet more like, what, how can an old man like you, climb such a high fence so easily? To not make him feel funny about himself, I simply answered the question yet internally I laughed.
We continued our hike and whilst enjoying the beautiful forest, where we spotted lots of wildlife, his question made me reflect. It took me back to a conversation about life and death with a friend, just the day before. The conclusion was to ‘eat the pie before you die’.
About 20 years ago, when I was still young (LOL), a doctor told me I had fibromyalgia. Hm, that wasn’t the kind of news I was hoping for as the end result of a series of tests in the year before. I knew people with this diagnosis and some of them even ended up in a wheelchair.
I asked the doctor what I could do to improve it? The answer was short: “Nothing”.
The next question was if I could do something to make it worse: “Nothing”.
I thanked the doctor for this info and told that this would be the last time we’d see each other because from that time I would be busy. “With what”?, the doctor asked. “Squeezing everything out of life and live full steam ahead as long as I can” was my reply.
Since that moment I made experiencing adventures and travelling a big thing in my life. Doing this in ‘Alex style’ means that this comes with taking risks and injuring myself frequently. A broken bone here and there, a cut, a bruise, nothing major. Just collateral damage.
Whilst embracing this ‘full steam ahead-approach, and frequently healing from those injuries, both my body and my spirit became stronger. I’m 20 years older in the meantime, and the adventures I’ve lived in the meantime, put a huge smile on my face and makes my heart sing. Luckily I have a loving partner who either joins or gives me the space to live those adventures. She also frequently provides the first aid needed when I had another ‘Alexident’ and injured myself again.
I celebrate each scar as another victory over fibromyalgia, as proof I’m for sure not wasting my life and my health sitting on the sofa behind a TV-screen.
Living full steam ahead was one of the best choices I’ve ever made. Putting my time and money in experiencing adventures, instead of buying things I actually could do without, makes me feel alive and happy.
Yes, my hair turned almost completely white in the 20 years since I last saw that doctor. So in the eyes of younger folks, I look like an old guy. This old guy loves to surprise them with not behaving in line with my age yet in line with how I want to feel: Alive and kicking!
Age. They often say it’s just a number. I say it’s not about the number nor about the age you can calculate by deducting your date of birth from today’s date. I’m more thinking of the roots of the word ‘courage’ with holds the word ‘heart’ in it.
With what do you keep your heart beating with excitement? That’s my answer to the question ‘What’s your age’.
© Alex Verlek, February 2022
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