Reflections on 48 years

July 20, 2019 by Joshua
in Fitness

Today is the 50th anniversary of the first lunar landing, the 75th anniversary of the closest to successful attempt to assassinate Hitler, and the 48th anniversary of me. As my mom likes to remind me: 9 pounds 8 ounces in sweltering summer heat.

At near the halfway point, some reflections.

I don’t feel older

Five or ten years ago I found the quote “Inside every old person is a young person thinking, ‘What the hell happened?!?'” and it resonated. I researched its source. I expected to find it came from a famous thoughtful person. The best source I found was a bumper sticker.

Joshua Spodek on his 48th birthday

I’m as fit or more, which makes me feel young. Here is a picture I took today, if you don’t mind a selfie. I’ll ask a friend to take better pictures, but I wanted something for this post.

I think many people would say I don’t have much fat, but as Arnold Schwarzenegger says, “if it jiggles, it’s fat,” and my skin around my belly button jiggles.

I’ve lost most of the fat I put on over the winter, eating so many root vegetables since I shop almost exclusively at the farmers market and my CSAs, which meant almost no greens.

Last time I lifted weights, which was Wednesday, I lifted more than ever. I think so, at least. I may have lifted more in college at a gym, but I didn’t lift regularly back then, so even though I trained regularly for ultimate, I probably didn’t lift that much. Also I’m only lifting kettle bells off the floor, so not serious amounts.

I mention lifting so much because it feels great. I can’t tell you how physically great lifting more than ever feels. Or seeing definition on my abs, even if not at my potential, however close.

I threw a disc in Central Park with old teammates last month. My throws were still solid. I could throw for distance, aim, and fun. It felt great — more than I can put into words — though I didn’t feel like playing ultimate after. A me of half my age would have loved to play, not just throw. Playing would mean with all my being.

I haven’t thrown myself physically into something so much in decades, partly because I rarely find myself in situations or with people who would dive into something so fully. This morning, in 90 degree weather, I rowed pretty intensely, around 900 calories per hour, which was light. I normally row around 1,000 calories per hour for up to 20 minutes at a stretch.

I used to wake up so sore I could barely move. On tournament Sundays I would then have to play again that day at a higher level than Saturday, making Monday painful. Glorious but painful.

With lifting and rowing, I feel exhausted and fatigued all the time now, but rarely acutely sore like when I competed.

My speed on erg is faster than ever for Tabatas, other intervals, and just rowing, though probably more from form and strength than magically maintaining youth. I’m surprised how my speed keeps increasing. I think deadlifts and squats are doing it. I wish I had lifted earlier.

Mentally, I feel as curious as ever.

In business, I think I’m taking the risks of a younger man, for example devoting myself to a podcast that I doubt can make money. It promotes reducing consumption, the opposite of what advertiser want.

I participate in fewer relationships, but they are closer and more meaningful than ever.

I’ve fallen in love a few times in my life, including head over heels and mutually. I haven’t settled down with one girl, but some of my romantic relationships have lasted longer than those of friends who were married.

I’ve made and lost a fortune of 8 digits, at least on paper.

I’ve competed in championships and learned to understand Einstein.

I feel I have little if anything to prove. I feel more secure than ever and than I see in others.

I believe in myself, that I will develop the skills and experience to change the world. I believe billions of people want someone to lead them to act on their environmental values. I think we know we’re contributing to lowering the Earth’s capacity to sustain life and human society, we don’t like it, and we know what to do, but we’re inhibited.

I feel I’m developing leadership technique and material in areas no one is touching but everyone wants leadership for. In this regard I feel like a young scientist researching combined with a young performer.

On the other hand

I hurt my left hamstring last fall. I’ve felt similar injuries many times. From the level of pain and discomfort, I’d guess I’d have to lay off it a couple weeks and then ease back on to using it.

But that calibration was based on a younger me. Now nine months later, it hasn’t healed. Partly because I keep stressing it just before it finishes healing, but it lingers.

I haven’t been able to stretch fully in the meantime. Once it heals, I’ll take months to where I can wrap my fingers around my feet, as I could before the injury.

Regarding physical activity and playing around, when my nieces and nephews want to run around, I don’t feel like it. I used to love running around.

Besides not feeling like it in a physical sense, child-like fun and games don’t engage me like they used to. I don’t feel like there’s a point. I feel like I’ve gotten what I can from running around like a child. Even skiing, which I loved, I don’t feel like doing as much as I used to, though not only from aging. My environmental sense of responsibility affect that decision too.

I hope I don’t sound too haughty or judgmental, but most or all of my friends seem bourgeois, even ones who seemed counter-cultural years ago. They own real estate. They hold steady jobs. They don’t push boundaries. They’re preparing to retire.

In this regard, I feel like the most bohemian person in my communities, not that I feel particularly bohemian, but I think I aspired to some sort of bohemian lifestyle, along with science. But I’ve owned an apartment for 20 years and got an MBA. Still, I’ve only worked 9 to 5 for two years, aspire to change the world, and keep developing as a performer, which I consider artistic.

Regarding death, I don’t yet viscerally sense my mortality. I glimpse it somewhat. My sunburn throwing the disc in Central Park last month felt more serious than any before. My body’s ability to heal is declining. Maybe a half dozen friends and colleagues have died. I’ve realized that healthy living, should it lead to me living a long time, might lead to loneliness.

On the other other hand

I feel wise. I don’t know how that sounds, but I sense that people value my advice, especially on relationships and business.

Things that used to seem complex seem obvious, especially related to the social and emotional skills I teach, practice, and work to develop.

Students and clients ask me what they find challenging and I’ve solved those problems before many times.

My books’ reviews seem meaningful and touching. Read the comments on this thread. (Then buy Initiative, a great gift for the whole family :)).

When I speak to world-renowned people on my podcast — including an Olympic gold medalist, a Nobel laureate, executives from the world’s most powerful companies, and more — we talk as peers.

I enjoyed reading how a 96 year old set a track and field record recently. I exercise twice daily with my burpee-based 15-minute calisthenics each morning and evening, on top of a 5-day cycle of lifting and intense cardio.

I haven’t decreased my daily burpees in nearly ten years. On the contrary, I’m still increasing that workout.

Everyone guesses I’m 5 to 10 years younger than I am. The last time I went dancing late, I sensed women dancing nearer to me than ever before, and I used to go dancing a lot so I think I have a baseline to judge by.

I’m sure I could come up with more, but I’ll leave it at girls dancing near me.

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