What is Age Really?


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Age is just a number, or so the cliché saying goes. I have never thought of myself as old or getting old. At 28, I still have a lot of things to look forward to and experience in my life. I still play sports. I don’t need coffee to get up in the morning. And, beyond that, I am a Gemini which means that I am perpetually in possession of a child-like fascination and enthusiasm for the world and for learning—if zodiac signs are to have any sort of stock placed in them. I don’t put a lot of stock in such things, but zodiac validity or not, those qualities are pretty accurate descriptions of certain facets of my personality.

I know people younger than me who say they are old or that they feel old.  This is a concept that has always been quite foreign to me, at least until last weekend. I have been an athlete my entire life. From soccer to basketball, swimming, diving, tennis, volleyball and golf, I’ve done it all. But I have never suffered any sort of major injury until this past month when I managed to give myself two significant, though not life-altering, sports injuries playing two completely different sports.

About a month ago, I was playing a pick-up volleyball game at a gym with a bunch of random people. At one point, I dove for the ball and landed on my hip. I thought nothing of it until the next day when I was in rather agonizing pain. It hurt to walk, sit, stand or lie down. After a couple of days of unrelenting pain, I decided that I probably had given myself a hip pointer and went to the chiropractor. He confirmed my injury while also teasing me about giving myself a football injury playing a non full-contact sport and popped my pelvis back into place. This was excruciatingly painful (the popping; not the teasing). But it helped. I was out of kickboxing for a week.

After the first injury, I didn’t think much of it and continued with kickboxing with unaltered enthusiasm. But then, last Saturday, I was doing my last class before the impending holiday and sprained my ankle. We were doing mountain climbers with rubber bands and I came down on my foot hard and my ankle made this huge popping sound. People around me could even hear it over the music. It didn’t really hurt too bad at first. But the sound frightened me and I didn’t want to get up. When my ankle swelled up and my whole foot bruised, I couldn’t deny what I had done.

Some people have recommended that I stop doing kickboxing so as to avoid future injuries. I have yet to go back but not because I want to stop going. Unfortunately, I am still healing. I am rather impatient to go back.

While I have always been clumsy and know that injury is a possibility, I don’t attribute these recent sports injuries to being caused by my clumsiness. Instead, I think it is an undeniable sign of things to come. These injuries are a reminder that I am no longer a teenager.

I don’t mind my adult status or the complications that my arise with it. But I don’t plan to stop kickboxing or doing any other sport-related activity. Perhaps this is a mistake, but why should I let something like this get in the way of doing the things I enjoy? And there are a number of people who are in the class who are years or even a decade or two older than I am. And yes, I will admit some of them have dealt with injuries, but they always come back.

I don’t want to think of myself as old or getting old. My denial of this fact has nothing to do with a fear of age or wrinkles. I will leave that phobia to the rest of society. I just don’t want to be one of those people who consistently complains about their age. Those people tend to be rather insufferable and it’s always awkward when they say this. I feel obligated to say “Oh no, don’t be silly. You’re not old.” But really, if they complain about being old, they’re old, no matter what the number of years they have been on this earth actually amounts to.

Regardless, I’m hoping to be able to get back into kickboxing next week when it finally stops being painful to walk up and down stairs. But now, I will be wrapping my ankle before each class to help prevent further or future injury. While some people may use such a minor injury as an excuse to abandon exercise and say they are just getting old, I will view that wrapping as compensation for a “war wound.” When I was a soccer player, we always referred to our injuries as such anyway. I will wear it with pride.

For some people, age is everything. But for me me, age is not even a number. Maybe I will feel differently in 10 years or so. We’ll just have to see. But for now, I can play and joke with my teenager cousins, I can sit and have an adult conversation with friends and family of various ages, and I can play any sport I want.

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