I’ve generally not been too bothered by the whole nasty process of aging. It is what it is and I’ve tended to roll with the punches. I’ve pretty well accepted that it’s unlikely I’ll ever do another marathon; did 5 but would have loved to do 10. Come to think of it, I don’t run at all any more although it’s the sport that’s closest to my heart and the activity that I hoped I would never have to give up.
I take care of myself and I suppose that the self-depreciating backhanded compliment my father was so fond of applies: “When I was young, they said I was good looking; now they say I’m looking good.” But there are moments. Just the other day while tilting my head over to clear the water out of my ear after a swim, I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror and was horrified to see how much my face sagged. I poked the jiggling, loose flesh. I squeezed it. I pulled it back to see what a face-lift might accomplish. Weakened connective tissue losing the battle with gravity. A man of gravitas? Not very funny.
The mantra I live by now is that I no longer have anything to prove. Dangerous moves on a mountain ridge, stunning displays of endurance in the bedroom or lifesaving maneuvers in the operating room? Been there, done that. As a young man, you need to get those notches on your gun and at this point in my life, I’m quite satisfied with the rough feel mine has. No, at this stage, I have new and much more important priorities or as Mick would say, “A brand new set of rules.”
If you know me even a little bit, it shouldn’t be hard to guess what those priorities are. First and foremost is Josée. It’s not just that we’re happily married...for nearly 30 years now (Hell, that’s longer than most life sentences!). No, it’s much more than that. Over the years, our lives have more than intertwined, they’ve actually melded together so that we’ve become symbionts. It’s a very good feeling and one that dominates my life.
Coming in at a very close second are the children. Alexandra and Philippe are in a good place in their lives right now. We launched them into the big bad world with everything we could muster and now we mostly sit back and watch as you would a very good movie that you’re pretty sure will have a happy ending. Alex, happily married to Kyle and Philippe happily living with Nina have their own lives now but they are more than generous at letting us share their happy moments as a family.
Harper. I can’t give Harper a rank. Harper is the nova stellarum in our family’s galaxy and right now, she’s shedding a magnificent light on all of our lives. What EPO was to Lance, Harper is to Josée and I. She’s the springtime in our lives unexpectedly arrived just when we were starting to think of fall. She’s the new and exciting storyline in that very good movie!
Finally, there is a whole other category of things that are priorities in my life and it would be remiss not to mention them. Some of these are material while others are intellectual but they have all become essential to my existence. Selfish, hedonist, dilettante, self-indulgent? Maybe but I love them and I don’t think I could do without them. The list is long but consider these as a starter: music, food and wine, art, design, reading, writing and debating. Go ahead and fault me for refusing to drink espresso unless it’s in a proper cup...and NEVER at Starbucks; laugh when I demand white linen on the restaurant table; call me pretentious for always tuning the car radio to classical. For these and many other things, I give no quarter. Never have. Never will. Josée, you saint!
I could fret about getting older and I have many friends who are doing just that. And sure, I can’t honestly say I have no regrets at all; given the chance, there are more than a few things I would start over. On the whole, though, I feel a serenity settling over my life. I get the feeling that the rough corners have been worn smooth and that a patina of wisdom and experience is beginning to show. I’m in a good place right now...may it long be so.