How on earth do you do that? Here are the secrets.
I was lying in a hospital in Iceland, having done a spectacularly showy header down a very long flight of concrete stairs, when the doctor walked in. It was four hours later, past tests and tests and more tests. I was drooling onto the floor (morphine will do that). My nurse, Audur, and I were telling body fluid jokes. We were in hysterics.
The doctor wasn’t. He gave me that good news, bad news set up. Bad news first: I’d gotten concussed, broken my elbow, broken my wrist, and smashed my pelvis in two places.
Good news: at 62, if I hadn’t been in superb shape with a body that falls like a microwaved Gumby doll (my words, not his) I’d be dead or a quadriplegic.
Doc walked out. Audur and I collapsed into hysterics. Morphine will do that.
I went home first class on a stretcher.
The good news, once I got past the godawful pain of the first several weeks trying to manage in my house on my own, was that a combination of running laps in the neighborhood Olympic pool and yoga fast-tracked me back onto a horse in less than six weeks.
The bad news is that this happens a lot. That’s because I do adventure travel all over the world. Most of the time, my choice of adventure puts me either close to or right into harm’s way.
Shit happens, man.
Especially in my world.
Not everyone wants to hurl themselves out of airplanes or off bridges. However, that’s my thing. I didn’t start to do this really seriously until I turned sixty, although I had actively skydived well before this, ridden horses and done plenty else.
How on earth do you do this at 67?
I get that a lot.
While the way I do it is not going to work for most folks, I might posit that what most folks seem to do doesn’t work for them, either.
To that, my favorite performance writer Brad Stulberg penned this recently:
In his typical straightforward style, Stulberg points out that what the Wellness Industrial Complex throws at us as miracle cures are nothing but massive hoaxes.
I might point out that celebridiots like Gwyneth Paltrow and her acolytes who push magical fixes have been roundly criticized as well as debunked, but that doesn’t stop people from buying their overpriced and sometimes outright dangerous products.
Goop et. al. have aligned themselves, or the other way around, with other crackpots. To that, I was once a Dr. Kelly Brogan fan, until:
I’m not at all sure what makes people go flying off the cliff of relative sanity, but Brogan, despite all her otherwise thoughtful credentials, is a crank.
In the big-shouldered Eighties, we had the New Age Movement, which had its own share of ridiculous cranks and shady characters. This is no different. What’s worse now is that what Matthey Remski refers to appropriately as the conspirituality movement could kill off our kids. You wanna kill your kids? you go right ahead, Sparky, don’t vaccinate, and have at it with the coffee enemas. But kindly keep your kids at home away from the healthy, vaccinated children. Just saying.
Butt, hey, pun intended, you could always put the Sunshine of the Eternal Idiot Asshole on your anus:
Why is it that I don’t tend to see Black folks doing this stupid shit?
It would be fair to say that my ability to stand up and walk to help after being thrown from a galloping horse in Kazakhstan (I broke my back in eight places but didn’t find out until much later) isn’t because I shove shiny rocks up my vagina. Nor is it because I’m a Being of Light.
I might well be a Being of Light, but right now honey, I’ve got a fucking broken back. So get out of my way, please, I have to get myself to a hospital. No amount of saying OOOOOMMMMMMM is going to make the pain much better. I still exist in a three-dimensional world, and like all of us, I am subject to the laws of that world.
You are too, despite what you may believe. Back in the Eighties, I recall meeting a group of folks who had decided that they weren’t going to age any more. San Diego. Of course it was.
Oh. Okay. So time here on earth is going to stand still for you, Sparky, but it’s going to keep right on marching for the rest of us ignorant humans. Since that was back in the Eighties, and a lot of those folks were in their sixties at the time, I rather seriously doubt I’d be able to check in with any of them about how all that Time Doesn’t Apply To Me worked out.
As Stulberg discusses, the compulsion of Silicon Valley lugnuts to lean into Tarot Card reading…
…is just another symptom of magical thinking. Look, I know how to read them myself. I know how to use them, and they are like so many things an interesting exploration into what you and I can’t understand. But my ability to both use and read Tarot cards comes after years and years of practice. Learning to understand their limitations in a three-dimensional world, and what they can and cannot do in that world.
A world in which human choice carries a lot of weight.
Most folks in America also carry a lot of weight. Most don’t want to. While I might disagree with their reasons why, I might point out that one reason I have a 25" waist at 67 is damned hard work, discipline and thoughtful eating. I don’t, and never will, use detox teas (which are laxatives and can be harmful). I don’t and never will go on ridiculous diets. I have, and it cost me. I need a healthy, hearty strong body. And kindly, I used to be 205 lbs on a body with tiny bird bones. I understand how hard this is.
There is no magic “diet” that works. If anything, and I love repeating myself, diets don’t work. They never have, never will.
Let say it again, because folks do not get the message.
DIETS DO NOT WORK.
Unless of course you have to, as I do now, remove certain substances due to allergies or medical conditions.
You and I have to find what foods work for our bodies, for our ages and activity levels. As I discovered the hardest possible way recently, even our best attempts at eating healthy can backfire. As I am an oxalate kidney stone former, my penchant for spinach salads, almonds and nut butters was priming me for stones. Who knew?
I do now. What that means, as it does for all of us, is that you and I have the responsibility to make course changes as we age, as our bodies and our food choices change us. That’s as it should be. No copper bracelet or magical cleansing will change what we need to do for ourselves.
There is no Staples EASY Button for the body, with a few exceptions.
From Stulberg’s article:
Once someone’s basic needs are met (e.g., food and shelter), scientists say that wellness emerges from nourishing six dimensions of your health: physical, emotional, cognitive, social, spiritual, and environmental. According to research published in 1997 in The American Journal of Health Promotion, these dimensions are closely intertwined. Evidence suggests that they work together to create a sum that is greater than its parts.
We as Americans are so focused on comfort and convenience that we eschew the very things that would most contribute to our wellness. Mostly, regular exercise. Above so many other things, what keeps me upright but in the world in supreme health, even when I am seriously injured, has been regular exercise. I am strong, limber and incredibly resilient. That is not by accident of genes. Despite the regular accusations of this crime, I am not “lucky.”
“Lucky” implies that I have it easy.
I might point to the tens of thousands of hours I have spent doing “easy” at the gym, running, hiking, biking, training on trails, running hundreds of thousands of steps to prepare for hiking huge mountains. Lifting hundreds of thousands of pounds of weights.
None of that is EASY. But by doing it, certain things which would utterly defeat and overwhelm anyone else my age or a third my are indeed….
Here’s what that looks like: last week, I schlepped three thousand two hundred pounds of rough green split fir uphill from my driveway to behind my house, stacked it and covered it before the rain. With one hand down (fractured finger) and one foot down (fractured toe).
In such cases, “easy” is earned. Most of my Dear Readers can do much these same thing, or better, simply by changing what you choose to do. Avoid work, you weaken. Do the work, you strengthen.
There is no substitute for dedicated hard work, for a thoughtful eating pattern designed for YOUR body and life at THIS age. There is no substitute. Period. I am not in the market for hacks, unless it’s a better axe to hack through my new wood pile.
There is no fix to make life easier, other than to simplify what we insist on making complex, expensive and impossible.
Easy my ass.
Back in early August I had just flipped my car at 65 mph right outside Twin Falls, Idaho. Kidney stones. Shit happens. Car went airborne, I landed in front of oncoming traffic after watching the horizon do a 360 just before the air bags blew. I pushed the cracked glass out of the crushed door, climbed out and went searching for my shit scattered all over the highway. I cracked finger, my noggin and bruised a bit.
That’s not an accident. That’s not luck. It’s hard work to be in shape. That didn’t come “easy.”
A week later, I moved more than 4000 square feet of heavy boxes, the bulk of all my belongings, from temporary storage to the basement of my new house. Alone. With one hand down, covered in bruises.
At 67, I am battling gravity. Time is an inevitability as long as I inhabit this skin suit, as do we all. The absolute basics, which Stulburg outlines above, really are simple.
Here’s how I do it: I move a LOT. Exercise a LOT. Eat intelligently, mostly plants, and I am constantly shifting what I eat in response to a changing body and different nutritional needs. I laugh a shitton of the time, always at myself; that is my superpower. I enjoy being alone AND I enjoy being with others. I have a faith unique to me and I do my level best to practice it daily.
I don’t shove stones where the sun doesn’t shine and I don’t shine the sun on my asshole.
I limit my exposure to social media with the kind of discipline that would shock my Catholic nuns back in the day. I don’t allow sewage in my brain. I surround myself with extraordinary, brilliant, funny, motivated people, People of Color, people of all genders and cultures and backgrounds and cultures and religions, ALL of them smarter than I am. People who push me and want me to push them, and we all rise together.
I surround myself with brilliant caregivers who don’t tolerate my excuses, push me hard, laugh at my stupidity with me, and expect me to rise and rise and rise and rise again no matter how many times life knocks the air out of my lungs, breaks a bone, cracks my coconut or otherwise leaves my blood on the hood of a car.
I have a purpose, love what I do, embrace my own shit and have a real skill for turning the stupid crap that happens to me into hilarity.
I don’t chase money or riches, am happy with what I have, am totally okay if I lose everything (and I have), and I have no intention of ending up stuck with tubes and unable to recognize where I am or what day it is. While I would love to not know who the current (ASSHOLE) president is, sadly, I like being compos mentis.
Which, kindly is why I do not and never have had any alcohol, or abused substances.
Okay okay, other than Krispy Kreme donuts, but that’s another story.
If you want other simple secrets to staying upright and out of the dementia facilities, please see this:
Most of what she writes, I’m already doing. Have done most of my life. I have more to worry about snapping my neck from a horse riding incident than landing in a perma-haze.
You want hacks, short-cuts, and magical answers to life’s ills? The Internet is ready and willing to take your money, clean your bank account and leave you broke, broken and likely in worse shape than before you starting searching for easy answers.
The simplest track to health is the most direct. Always has been, always will be.
As Stolberg writes,
Nourishing these interrelated dimensions of health, however, does not require that you buy any lotions, potions, or pills. Wellness — the kind that actually works — is simple: it’s about committing to basic practices, day in and day out, as individuals and communities.
Nothing hard about that at all.