By James Wallace Harris, December 20, 2015
If you were told smoking dried badger balls would restore your lost youth, vitality and stamina, would you? In some countries traditional medicine claims potions made from endangered animals will let you feel young again. We scoff at such ancient folk wisdom. Yet, in our modern culture we embrace mega-vitamins and esoteric supplements to turn back the years, even though scientific research warns us we’re just pissing those expensive chemicals away. If you’re young and reading this you won’t know what I’m writing about. But if you’re old, you do know. You know that feeling of dwindling vitality. You also know that feeling you’d grasp any straw you could, even smoking powered badger balls, to get back that energy you had.
Feeling old? Feeling old and tired? Feeling old, tired, depleted much quicker than you used to? Join the club. Are you retired and sensing that life is on one long slow decline? I just searched Google on how to gain energy and stamina after 60. Most of the answers I got were about exercise. A few were about weird diets, strange herbal remedies or special vitamins. I’m hardly alone in this quest. I already exercise three times a day, take supplements my doctor recommends, and I eat a natural plant-based died. I feel ten years young than I did before I retired, but I still feel like I’m on the downward slope side of the graph. I’m doing just about everything that’s recommended. Other than looking for the Fountain of Youth, consuming endangered animal parts, or seeking out a witchdoctor, I’m not sure what to do. Now I understand why people hope for magic. Why they pray. Why they take drugs.
I’ve been wondering about artificial stimulants for old folks, but I’m not sure I could handle cocaine or crystal meth. Hell, I don’t even tolerate caffeine and sugar anymore. Currently my best antidote for fatigue is a nap. Then I started thinking about things I do during the day that do give me a physical and mental boost. Could there be mental stimulants that don’t degrade the body? Last night I played my favorite Van Morrison tunes for a half-hour, very loud, that really pumped me up. My normal volume setting is 74 on my Denon receiver. Usually my company complains at 66. Last night I dialed it up to 80. It felt great! Watching an innovative TV series can bring back thrills. Reading an outstanding novel makes my neurons boogie. Playing with a new tech toy brings back a bit of that excitement I felt as a kid at Christmas.
I get up at 6am, and 18 hours later head to dreamland, but I do need three naps during the day to recharge my battery. I no longer have the energy to be physically active for a whole day. I can write for 2-3 hours, an activity that eventually fogs my mind. I need food and a nap to recover, but I don’t recover enough to go back to writing, or anything else constructive during the day. I’m left to socializing, reading, watching television or listening to music. I’d like to have the stamina to write longer, or get in two writing sessions. My old workday was four hours, lunch and then three and a half hours of more work. I can’t tell if retirement or age has ruined my stamina.
If I believed it was anything but age I could find a way back to when I felt younger. If I believe it’s age, do I just fatalistically accept more and more napping? All those vampire stories make sense to me now. Bite someone on the neck and suck out their vitality. It’s like Willie Sutton’s logic, “I rob banks because that’s where the money is.” It also explains why some of my peers aren’t acting their age. They believe if you act young, you’ll feel young. Or why people get plastic surgery, if you look young, you’ll feel young.
Friends tout that 60 is the new 40, but I don’t believe that bullshit. Looking around me, I see my fellow baby-boomers doing everything they can to stay active. Many have returned to the pleasures and pursuits they loved in their teens. I often see people in their 70s acting young. But why don’t I see people in their 80s doing the same? There’s a few outliers, but not many. What magic does it take to keep hanging on? At some point I know I’m going to be doing far more napping than doing. And after that it’s the big dirt nap.
I’ve already given up all my favorite fun foods to feel better. And I do. I exercise to feel better, and that works too. But I can feel those remedies have their limitations. What’s next? Mega-vitamins and smoking badger balls? I wonder at what straws I will grasp.
Essay #990 – Table of Contents