Sunday, March 21, 2010

Entering the Age of Loss

While I was running the other morning, and still waking up (thank goodness there were no cars on the road), I realized I had suddenly passed into a new age in my life: the Age of Loss. I figure that is the point where you suddenly realize that you are losing things. I don't mean the TV remote control, your glasses, your cell phone or the car keys (all of which I swear I put down where I always do and someone came along and moved them). The big wake up call was the realization that I had reached an age where age itself was stealing from me. Loss of hair, loss of muscle tone, loss of good looks (my son Matt would say you can't lose what you never had), loss of stamina, loss of hearing (beyond my current “selective” hearing loss), loss of eyesight, and loss of memory (at times that may be a blessing). Hmmm…where was I going with this?

Oh Yeah…I also realized there's a ying and a yang to the Age of Loss, things you lose and things you gain as well. Like a few extra pounds here and there, wrinkles, more forehead, blood pressure, wisdom (some people anyway) and an ever increasing collection of aches and pains.

Actually what got me started on this train of thought was the news that a dear uncle of mine had passed away. Some people pass through your life and while you have fond memories of your time with them, they never leave a mark. My uncle Ray not only left a mark he helped to define who I have become. Certainly not as much as my immediate family but in ways that only someone outside your daily life could. At his military funeral I was talking to friends and family about not seeing each other these days except at funerals. It use to be at weddings. Welcome to the Age of Loss.

You might ask, what does this have to do with running and the marathon. I’m glad you asked. Acknowledging I have moved into a new phase meant acknowledging that my best running years are long behind me. That despite my belief that I still have one more good marathon in me, just surviving the marathon and not being carried off in a wheelchair is going to be the best I can hope for. Heck, just surviving the training and getting to the starting line without ending up in traction might be my new goal. It is interesting how the body recognizes its age long before the mind will acknowledge it.

But it also struck me that the Age of Loss is not just an age thing. We all know people who have suffered losses early in their lives. The death of a parent, sibling, or friend; loss of a parent to divorce, loss of a job, a home or maybe even a place to live. There are few things more heart wrenching to me than thinking about being a parent who can’t provide my children with a bed, clothes or even an expectation on where the next meal will come from. The loss of a sense of security and hope must be overwhelming.

So the ying and yang of my Age of Loss is while I’ve lost the ability to get through my marathon training without looking like the hunchback of Notre Dame, I’ve gain the opportunity to use my running and friendships to help put children in a bed, food in their stomachs, a smile on their parent’s face and a bit of hope back in their lives. To me that’s a net gain any way you look at it.