Local Access Only
There's been some road work happening on my block. I shall define my terms.
My block is what I consider the road that passes in front of my house, stretching (it doesn't continue in either direction, actually; this is it) from a major north-south artery to Puget Sound for about two miles. The construction work has been, at different times, further west than our house. causing minor but chronic detours in every-day neighborhood stuff. It adds an extra three-quarters of a mile or so to a routine trip I make to the grocery store, for example, although I've just started using another store, one I can walk to if need be.
But this has been going on since Halloween. And while I can't argue with much-needed civic upgrades, we're getting a little weary. Particularly since the work has moved to directly in front of our house.
The street is officially closed, then, an odd thing whenever it happens. Slaloming around barriers in the dark is a fun game but there are trade-offs, particularly when it comes to actually hitting the barriers (which, I'll add, I have not done. Yet).
So yeah. Not like this doesn't ever happen to people. As I said, it's just a little wearying. Not to mention that my neighbor's property was razed last summer and they're in the loooooong process of building a gazillion smaller homes on the lot. We barely hear them now.
I just know they're there. Like termites. I can sense them.
But my problems are mine. They're local, and personal. Which is how we live anyway, all of us seeing the world through my-life prisms.
I'm currently swimming in a giant pool of mortality and existential tunnel vision, which really shouldn't surprise anyone. I remember speaking in church one day, joking about the fact that I was not yet 40 and had many, many months to go before that big event. I go to a different church, but actually I can still look around and see two faces that were there during my 40th year of existence (only one of whom is related to me). It seems like yesterday.
And now I'm sneaking up on 60 as if such a thing were possible, as if I can delay a number by ignoring it, pretending that the calendar has a fluidity based on attention paid to it. I've been contemplating this number a lot, not because of angst but just trying to put it into some perspective.
Perspective is where you get into trouble, by the way.
There are millions of fully-functioning adults wandering around this country who were born when I was 30. Irrelevancy gets personal when you crunch the numbers. These young people will be in charge, and in some cases already are, and this is fine and good but I don't have anything to do.
I don't. Whatever I accomplish in my remaining years, the chances are good that it won't amount to much. It's not supposed to; this is the time of life to sit back, reflect, relax. People in their 60s are much happier, studies show. Hey, the pressure is off. Relax and die, you earned it.
OK, but c'mon. There's an adjustment here. I'm adjusting.
I believe it's absolutely necessary to understand the relative nature of this stage of life. To do otherwise is irrational, unrealistic, and can involve serious injury. Bikes and marathons come to mind, but there are far worse things.
And, as happened to me on New Year's Day, it's important to dismiss that little voice that pops up at stray glances in the mirror. The voice that says, Hey, looking pretty good there, mister!
There was interesting lighting in that bathroom in the Texas cabin we were staying in. You know the lighting. Flattering in a lying-through-my-teeth way. I'd just stepped out of the shower and was combing my hair when the voice started chirping away. I grabbed my phone to snap a picture of my stunning bare torso, and I showed it to my wife. I told her I should take a picture every January 1 from now on, just to chart the deterioration. We had a laugh. She didn't seem particularly inspired by the photo, but we've been together 35 years. It would be a lot to ask.
And it's not bad at all. I don't have a gut anymore, and while I don't have a six-pack there's maybe a little abdominal muscle definition. I've been doing some minimal weight training and there might be a little evidence. I mean, it's not a bad look for a guy my age. I've seen lots worse.
But if you're going to get all sappy about your abs, then you have to be fair and sneak a glance over your shoulder as you get dressed, just to get a glimpse of that wrinkled, sagging butt in the mirror and understand that this game is over. This part of life is all about maintenance and slow degradation, at best. Not getting back into shape. That ship has sailed. Your butt is not going to look good. Best not to look, really.
Best not to hit those construction barriers, either. Time to accept things the way they are, avoid what you can, and maybe just stay off the road as much as possible. This is my solution, although feel free to use it. Just say "Idea by Chuck" or something, it's fine.