During the 2001 MLB season, the Seattle Mariners, on their way to a league-record 116 win season had a phrase. It was "two outs, so what?". I'd like to borrow that for a moment and change it to "three decades, so what?".
This is in response to an email I received from one of my friends last week. You see, I took a nasty fall while mountain biking a couple weeks ago and in all likelihood have a small microfracture in my knee cap. It hurt steadily for a week or so, but mostly only if I went running or if I banged it on something--which I try not to do, thank you for the advice. When telling my non-biking friends back in NJ about it, one of them asked when I was going to wake up and realize that I was 30 years old and stop doing things that get me hurt. He advised I take up "fat guy" sports like golf and softball like the rest of them.
I thought this was kind of funny and I replied by asking him a chicken and the egg type question. "Which came first, the fat or the softball?" At least I thought it was funny. But it also got me thinking about how different perceptions of age can be between groups of friends and, dare I say, regions of the country. The friends I grew up with (and would still do anything for) used to be incredibly active: running, surfing, snowboarding, skateboarding, whatever. Now, aside from the rare surf session, they mostly get their exercise from weekly softball games and sunday night poker tourneys. And I often get the impression that they think of my biking and whatnot as excessive. Looking across my extended family, I can only think of one relative who I would consider active and that would be my my black-belt-wearing, marathon-running aunt. As for the rest of them, it's not because they're lazy but it's because the thought of exercise or sport just doesn't occur to them. It's not something that they think is normal for people their age.
What's so weird about this is that of all the people that I ride with here in the Seattle area, and of all the people I trained for triathlons with when I lived in North Carolina, I always was and still am among the youngest. And not nearly the fastest. Many of the people I struggle to keep up with are as many as sixteen years older than me. One in particular is pushing 60 and is lightning-quick on a mountain bike. Many of these folks think nothing of riding their bikes, or going on lengthy hikes or whatnot, at least several times a week. To many of them, the thought of not mashing pedals and hike-a-biking up over mountaintops several times a week is completely foreign. Working up a good sweat each day is as much a part of their daily ritual as brushing their teeth. In a rare example, I know of several who don't even own televisions and think of watching the tube as unusual as my relatives view endurance sports.
This is coming dangerously close to my theories behind the relative lack of team-worship in the Pacific Northwest compared to the Northeast, and since I'd like to still finish working on that article and save it for another day, I'll stop here. Hmmm... how do I wrap this up?
Of course, I don't for a second think one way to live is better. Healthier perhaps, but I won't say better. Everyone is different and everyday is different. Doing what makes you happy is a personal choice and, for me, it changes each day according to my mood. Sure, I get teased for not riding on Sundays during the NFL season, but I don't care because I am just as happy screaming myself hoarse at the Seahawks game as I am bombing down singletrack. And there are days -- albeit rarely -- when I wake up and decide that I would be happier laying on the couch all day watching movies than going for a ride. So I understand that sport and exercise isn't everything to all people.
But it is weird to see how different the mindset is within different groups of people. Especially two different groups of people who share the common link as all being friends of mine.