pushing limits

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There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens. 

                Ecclesiastes 3:2

It happened when I gave up on playing collegiate baseball. I swore to avoid typical patterns that yield typical results. 

I would not deny my age. I would not act my age. I'd resist the variety of college binges that create atrocious habits and leave you not forever ya, ya, ya, ya, ya-young [Kesha reference]. I wouldn't push through seven years of college so that I could carry a leather briefcase, fancy up the house, buy a luxury car, or invest in stocks for fun.

Tuck jump over 5' 3." is my thing.
I would always be an athlete, setting goals, thriving on the process of improving my game, strength, speed, or whatever. I would attempt to eat well while not overly burdening anyone, never have to worry about cholesterol or having to diet. I would playfully eye up walls and fences, imagining what strategy I would use to scale or jump that baby outright.

Later I would refuse to talk on the phone or read a book while the kids get to stampede around the yard or playground. I would invite a few like-minded young men, fit and nearly half my age, to train with me. I'd get a dose of youth, intentionally go under the influence of what repels the sneaky stale. 

Making good on those promises has been wonderful. Challenges were confronted, risks taken, confidence gained, stories remembered, and friendships forged. We've pulled off feats we would have never imagined.

It would have been hard not to learn a few things along the way. Like how difficult it is to avoid typical patterns, why you don't see many 40 year-olds playing tag with their children much less launching quarter pipes or dead lifting 3 times their body weight.

How do we know when it's time to push limits or to respect them? There's no formula under the sun.

I caught a clue last week when I noticed Tim, Ryan and I leaning on our bikes during what we call Ridin' Time, talking about crab grass. I often perceive the slow closing of that window of time between feeling warmed up and feeling fatigued. I allow walls and fences to mock me. I've grimaced while getting dressed after a day of glorious impact. 

And there is this knee pain turned chronic.

Nothing lasts, especially the "wow" feats of total body power and risk. Unfortunately, the awesome factor of an activity always seems to be inversely proportional to its longevity. All athletes retire, some more formally than others.

To age gracefully is to accept not so graceful movement. We grow wiser. And busy. Stiff, achy, and plain tired. We all slow down, eventually to a stop. Limits always win in the end.

And yet the theory that a spine or a pair of legs has only a certain number lifts and bends is rubbish. Would we do well do sit around saving our steps, jumps, and lifts? How can we afford to take it light when it is the loading that causes our mind and body to grow, when our entire being becomes more resilient through the magic rhythm of work, rest, and recovery?

And let us not forget the grace of movement, fluid art everywhere, immeasurable.

So I'm hopeful for another decade or so of pushing.

Will ten years make me content with a shift to maintaining health rather than pushing limits? Will I literally walk away after proving whatever I needed to prove, having had fun, made stories, and dragged a few good friends and family along for the ride? Would I retire before winding up like a some version of the Monty Python Black Night?

Probably not. No with mere time. Resiliency has its limits.

Ah, to be at peace with limits. To see golf and the elliptical machine and cooking on the grill and cruiser bikes and raking the yard as gifts. That simple and right gratitude pushes my limits. 

Yes, I have some working out to do.