As good as it gets..

Kim Du Toit had a great post the other day about getting older.

There’s a lot of stuff in there that a lot that these younger alpha dudes need to understand.

I could have gone two ways:  hit the gym, manically try to build myself back up, or just accept the situation and realize the reality.  I chose the latter, even though it was quite a blow to my self-esteem to come to terms with this new reality.  No longer could I get into barroom brawls, no longer could I lift or just push heavy objects into place;  my life (and more correctly my body) could no longer tolerate any of that strong-man stuff.

Kim Du Toit

I comment on some of the man sites in sort of a lampooning, sort of a mentor tone, I guess. They don’t get it. Most of these dudes are in their 30s and 40s. They are peaking. These days the thing is fifty is the new thirty. Bullshit. Fifty is fifty. That’s when shit starts to break. That’s when every stupid check that you wrote in your twenties comes due. How do I know?

I’ve been there. Got the t-shirt, the pain, and tears. You have no idea.

When I was late forties, I was mighty. Yes, I had gotten big. At my peak, I tipped the scales at 275. Built like Shrek, I could squat 315 lbs, and dead lift probably more. I never tried. I could do reps at 315. Why bother? I could walk all day. I could hit the elliptical for a half hour to warm up to lift. I could move bricks, build walls, dig, do whatever I had to do.

Then I got cancer. I blogged it. Thought it would be fun. It wasn’t. When all was said and done I lost 80 lbs. When I went back to work out, I could barely curl 10 lbs. I could squat the bar only, maybe five times, sweating like a champion all the way.

It’s been six years. I still try. I’m up to maybe 100 lbs squat.

This is huge. Part of what I do is deploy networks. I lack the physical ability to do this any longer. I depend on my partner to do the physical work nearly entirely.

Here’s what happens:

  • I’m in a ceiling running wire. After years of inhaling insulation, it starts messing with my lungs. I’m hot. I’m sweating, and I start making mistakes. I put my foot through a ceiling a few months ago. The first time ever in thirty plus years.
  • I’m building shelves, cutting them on my table saw. Sawdust is flying, my lungs start acting up. I’m tired, sweating, can’t breath, and start making mistakes. I remove a 1mm channel from my hand.

Now it sounds worse than it is. Since I learned how to properly operate a table saw in a real shop class, I only had maybe 2mm of blade exposed. I learned how to do this before those pussy guards were a thing.

I once was bragging to my son that the average age of electricians and plumbers was like mid fifties. So when I got old I’d have a plan to make money. He laughed and said “yeah…heh heh…when..”

I simply don’t have it any more. I get that. But I have a company I started with a friend that requires I do some of this and I can’t any longer. I can’t hit my insurance if I screw up at a customer site. I can’t be 50 feet in the air installing a WiFi WAP any more. So I have to do a rethink. I’ll have to add in the cost to hire a noob to break their balls doing this.

So I’ve digressed. But I’ll say to the youngsters, that you’ll get old. Sooner, and worse than you think. Those “gains” will slow if you get any at all. You’ll start paying for your past mistakes, with interest. It’s coming and there’s little, if nothing, you can do about it.

I’m still mean. I’m still full of guile, and strong enough. I’m still good for a 500 yd beer can shot. To me, prison is a viable retirement plan. Not a great one, but viable.

Remember, Age and Guile will beat youth and skill every time.