Today is brought to you by the number 51. A little battered and rusty, maybe in need of some new paint, but still fully functional. A little bit like me. Today is my birthday – number 51. :-0
I think the weather was a birthday gift; simply perfect. Cool but not cold, blue skies, abundant sunshine and a nice tailwind. I took some time for a long and peaceful ride up along the ridge and to the river. Contemplating aging, longevity, fate, the ride ahead.
The fifties have been a little unsettling to me. Not so much out of vanity, or even fitness and health … more of a wariness of fate, I guess. This year, I am on the cusp of having out-lived both my mother and my grandmother. I think it’s always been in the back of my mind: questioning my destiny, wondering if I would outlive them? They each died too young; my mother from an unexpected brain aneurysm during her 51st year, and my grandmother died during childbirth, delivering my mom. She was barely into her twenties.
And while I think I lead a reasonably healthy and active lifestyle, I find myself wondering if it will really make a difference in the end or not? Not that I intend to stop doing what I do – I love to cycle, swim, ski, walk, run, hike … they are simply a part of who I am, what I like to do, and the experience enriches my daily life. I really rarely give the fitness/health benefit much consideration (probably because I don’t work all that hard at any of it, lol.), but I’m sure it’s better than not doing any of it.
Are we a fitter generation? I like to think so, but sometimes I am not entirely sure. Obesity statistics, diabetes and heart disease statistics are alarming. My mom was reasonably active, very slim and always maintained a very healthy weight. Although she had been a smoker during her younger years (like many of her generation), she had given it up. She liked to hike, cross-country ski and play golf. She was a fabulous cook – and instilled in me an appreciation of healthy food and fine cuisine.
So while I consciously attempt to make lifestyle choices that are forward-thinking in regard to health and wellness, I know that it is no guarantee. Several years ago, we were all shocked when I was diagnosed with a tumor in my right breast; fortunately it was completely benign – but I will confess that it scared the crap out of me. I had no family history, no obvious risk factors. It made me realize that despite the best prevention efforts, there are no guarantees. You can do everything humanly possible – eat well, maintain a healthy weight, wear a helmet, ride defensively, raise your heart-rate on a regular basis – and ultimately, you just never know … it might be a log truck, it might be genetics.
For now, the road ahead looks likes a long one, a good one. I will keep riding, wearing my helmet, and eating the good foods. I will swim, and read, and take pictures and try to keep my brain and heart in the best condition I can manage. I look forward to the “someday” when I can take a grandchild (no rush on this one, boys) for a ride on the back of my Xtracycle, and put him/her on her first skis up in the snowy mountains. I am filled with the love of my family and friends – which is as good for the heart and the soul as riding a bike. My goal, for now, is to be able to pedal a bicycle on my 90th birthday. And enjoy a cupcake. I’m not so sure I’ll still be blogging about it by then – but who knows? 😉