"To those who said to Diogenes the Cynic 'You are an old man; take a rest', 'What?' he replied, 'if I were running in the stadium, ought I not to slacken my pace when approaching the goal. Ought I not rather put on speed?'" - Diogenes Laertius, Lives of Eminent Philosophers
One of these things the last month or so has convinced me of - now that I seem to be pulling out of my tailspin of a significant birthday - is that I need to get my head back on straight and get going with things that I have decided my life needs to be about.
To be fair, I think we as a society are probably about to go through the same thing. We have gotten used to economic good times and in some aspects have gotten a bit sloppy or even lazy with how we manage our time and money - the fact that by and large we value recreation to the exclusion of productive activity (and not all productive activity is a job; they are two different things).
But it is not just economic or productive necessity that should impel me. What I need to fight against as well is the insidious creep of "Taking it easy".
I am very conscious - now more than ever - that this is the point of the program where the body starts rebelling against us in one form or fashion. I am starting to experience that now: my right knee is starting to have "words" with me and I am still working towards a sleep pattern that does not involve me waking up multiple times. But even this are facts, not excuses, to still do something.
One of the biggest challenges that I see as I have watched others confront this is adaptability the changing circumstances: physical, mental, even economic. The reality is that even as some of these things become larger issues, other things become lesser issues. The skill needed is to pivot in the direction of those things that I can still control or grow in.
Some people give up - if they cannot do the thing they used to do in the manner they used to do it, they simply refuse to do it at all. For others, they find ways to do some of the things they could do, or do it differently, or do it similarly: if I cannot run, I can hike - and even when the day comes that I cannot hike, I can still walk.
My goal - if it can be said to have one - is to be my great grandmother who was sharp as tack when we visited her at 96 years old (she repainted her living room at 94) and lived to 99, living on her own and cooking breakfast for us every morning when we were there (fried eggs prepared on the bacon grease, thank you very much). Or the orator Isocrates, who, at 98 had lived through the entire Peloponnesian war, the rise and fall of the Sparta Hegemony and then the Theban Hegemony, and the rise of Alexander the Great - and wrote almost up to the point he died. Or even Diogenes, sprinting in the virtual stadium and living a consistent life right up to the end.
There are many things that may go awry and prevent this, of course. But the possibility of such things is no reason for me to not try.
The time has come, as Diogenes said, to put on speed.