Strange Indications

       I’ve developed a persistent ache in my left shoulder. It’s bothersome enough to keep me awake at night, or at least tossing and turning like a rotisserie, searching for the pain-free sweet spot. The worst part of it all is the mystery. I have no idea when or where or why or how I hurt it. It just started aching. I’m surprised the skin on my shoulder isn’t discolored; I wish it was blue and black to corroborate my story. In general, I keep my aches and pains to myself. Not because I’m so tough, but because I’m afraid to look like a silly hypochondriac.

       I hurt my other shoulder, the right one, when I fell in the garage two years ago, dislocating the tendon that converts a floppy arm into a useful tool. Paul Hamels at Green Tree Spa magically fixed it for me, and now I have full use of it except it is weaker than my left shoulder. At least it was until this mysterious aching started up. I hope my left shoulder will be as easy to repair.

       Getting older reminds me of being a teenager. Remember how we were completely shocked that all our new freedoms and opportunities were accompanied by increased expectations and obligations? Every generation is stunned to learn they are now responsible to take care of themselves and take care of their own business when all they wanted was their own phone and a chance to stay up late.

       In the same way, I don’t resent getting older, but I’m constantly surprised at the new baggage that occupies my silver-haired years. For example, any time I bump the back of my hand, it scrapes and bleeds. I never expected my hands to turn into my Dad’s hands. I’m not happy about that.

       And last Saturday, the very day we planned to look at lake houses in Granbury, I woke up with a stiff and painful ankle. How could anyone sprain their ankle while sleeping?

       Here’s another: I’ve never had great vision – I was the kid in first grade wearing glasses – but I’m still surprised whenever I can’t see. Just last night, feeling noble, I dug out my old Bible memory verse cards to take on my big hike this summer, only to realize I couldn’t read them. The writing was impossibly small. What was I thinking when I wrote them out so tiny? I don’t know how I ever read those.

       And now that I have finally outgrown face zits, which by the way took decades longer than I expected, I get blotches and bumps and tags on my face, all of which look like cancer to me. I even started going to a dermatologist. On my first visit he asked, “Mr. Simpson, what brought you in this morning?” and I said, “I decided to be a grownup for a change and get professional advice.” He told me my concerns were nothing more than marks of old-age and come back next year.

       Yet, even with all these strange aging indicators, and I haven’t mentioned them all since memory is a big one, I love being 60 years old (actually, 60.98 at time of this writing), and I’m looking forward to the freedom and understanding that comes with age.  I don’t resent the changes I have to make (running to cycling) or the adaptations (tiny printing to 12-point font), and I wonder what will be next.

       I fully expect the next years to be the best ones. I just read a headline that said “World’s Oldest backpacker plans two-month trip to Europe at 95 years old.” That sounds great to me, like something I want to do. I hope my shoulder feels better by then.


“I run in the path of Your commands, for You have set my heart free.” Psalm 119:32

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