Through the years. In Squash, in life.

“All anybody needs is some sort of goal or motivation to work towards and to measure incremental progress. Be ever curious don’t abandon your childish nature. Just look around, ask questions, and be willing and eager to learn.” Tom Lough, 73, 1968 Olympian

I realize I have no business talking about getting on in years and dwindling away, but it has come up often enough in the past week I decided to write on it. Indeed I believe I have much to learn from the older generation. My coach Gary recently told me about a man named Ed Whitlock. He was an incredible runner. He ran during his teen years and picked it up again in his forties. Whitlock ran straight through into his 80s and clocked a 3 hour marathon in the fall before he lost his life to cancer in the winter. Gary said to me “he had no bad days, he just kept pushing and one day he died. That’s how I want to go.” No doubt getting older is difficult, although it is sad to see people enter into the “disease zone” of their lives and slowly dwindle away over the course of 20 years or so. I wish to be like Whitlock and Gary, to keep pushing until one day I keel over and wake up somewhere nice.

Edward Whitlock, some 80 years old or so, finishing a marathon

During a conversation about doubles this week a friend told me, when he found out that I was 21, that he would give his left arm to be 21 again. The thing that I didn’t understand was that he was 45. There are still a million different things you can do at 45, I look forward to the time where I can experiment with different hobbies and ambition stops kicking me in the head. Ed Whitlock took up running again in his forties, my parents learned how to surf and now take yearly trips down to Costa Rica, my father-in-law learned how to fly a plane. Maybe you can’t afford to surf in Costa Rica or fly around Toronto, but you can always throw on some runners and test your limits. Everyday is an experience and you will remember your experiences whether you try to or not.

My dad, 54 or so years old, learning how to surf

Profound satisfaction comes from stepping outside your comfort zone and trying something new or creating something new. Maybe you can write music, or paint, or cook. Maybe it is trying something you know from a new perspective, I greatly enjoy walking on the squash court and trying a new style out. Today I am shot maker, tomorrow I may be a grinder. Greatness awaits all who seek it, who love to persevere and endure well. We must enjoy our toil here under the sun, it is a gift.

“Wondrous is the strength of cheerfulness, and its power of endurance – the cheerful man will do more in the same time, will do it; better, will preserve it longer, than the sad or sullen.” Thomas Carlyle

 

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