One of the nice things about getting older is that you find that you don't need to beat your head against the wall or wring your hands endlessly every time you need to make a decision. Somewhere along the line, you learn to be, oh, I don't know, a little more efficient at figuring things out. It's not that you've become wiser, necessarily--and I certainly have a lot of personal experiences to prove that--but you just sort of naturally learn enough shortcuts in your thinking process that most decisions aren't that big of a deal. In fact, some of them seem to be made for you.
When I was younger I used to play pick-up basketball games a lot. Every week, I'd meet with a group of guys down at the local rec center, and we'd play competitive, full-court basketball. I wasn't a great player, by any stretch of the imagination, but I had a good outside shot and I enjoyed the exercise and the time with my friends. Anyway, I did this for nearly 12 years, throughout my 30s and into my 40s, until one evening--game day--a buddy called and asked me if I needed a ride.
"I don't think I do," I said.
"Yes. I don't think I feel like playing."
And that was true enough, for I never played another game of pick-up basketball.
My friends called me a couple of weeks after, to see if maybe I still wanted to play, but my decision was irrevocable. You know that insightful line from "The Sun Also Rises," the one about the two ways a character lost all his money? "Gradually, then suddenly." Well, I think my decision to stop playing basketball happened a lot like that.
I think I gradually learned that playing basketball was no longer the fun activity that it had always been--maybe the game had gotten a little stale for me, or maybe (more likely) I didn't like how sore and stiff I was the next day and how long it took me to recover. This disaffection for the game had probably been on my mind for a long while, without me really being aware of it, until that final night, when I suddenly discovered that I was done with playing.
As I get older, I'm finding out a lot of decisions are made this way. Sometimes I don't even realize how certain I am of what I'm thinking until the decision has to be made. And then, bam--suddenly I know.
You know the funny thing about the basketball decision? I haven't missed playing basketball a bit. Not one bit! I still shoot around, occasionally, but I don't miss the full-court game at all, and I haven't since that first week when I hung 'em up. It's like I don't even think of it anymore.
I still love to exercise, of course, I play golf and tennis, and I swim now, which I haven't done since I was a kid. It was another quick decision--I took my grandson to a swim class, and when I got there the water looked so blue and warm that I got a membership on the spot. I hadn't been in a pool in forever, yet suddenly it seemed like the thing to do. I guess when an old dog decides it's time to learn a few new tricks again, well, anything is possible.
Until Next Week,