It has been a while since I blogged. In my defense, it has been a busy month, but that really is no excuse. The only thing I can say is that, during this month of birthdays, anniversaries, holidays and work travel, I have found one thing I cannot deny: I am getting old. Not decrepit old, like a helpless stooped-over, cane-walking, can’t take myself to the bathroom old; but rather the kind of old that makes noises when I get up, can’t remember anything, and slowly going blind old.
Part of my business trip was to re-certify to train safety trainers on pole climbing. This is a very physical activity and one I have been doing for a decade now. The good news is that with all the practice, I can still do it without any stress-related injuries. Safety aside, there are plenty of other reminders of my advancing years, such as trying to find a sleep number I can live with. The Radisson—a comfortable enough hotel I have stayed at many times—uses the sleep number bed in all its rooms. For those who don’t know, a sleep number bed is essentially an air mattress on top of a piece of plywood. If you do not activate it, you get a very firm sleeping surface.
Well, the first night in the room, the dern-fool machine would not inflate. As it was late and I was tired from a day of flying, sitting in a classroom and then climbing a pole, I didn’t feel like fooling with it, so I slept on the uninflated bed. Fortunately, the next morning, I woke up without too much physical effects, except for the fact that both arms wouldn’t work and I had to walk to the bathroom slowly while trying to remember how to stand up straight. I managed to work the kinks out and had a very good day all the same.
That evening however, I was not going to endure the board and started playing with the control again. After pressing every button three times in various order, I managed to get the pump to fire up. I quickly retried the sequence until the pump resumed and I could feel the mattress inflate. It is an interesting sensation to lay on a mattress as it slowly inflates, lifting you up while you’re on your back. When I let go of the button, the indicator said “35.” I played a little more and found the more air you put in, the higher the number. It took that night and the next to determine I like it between 45 and 60, depending on my mood.
Now, an elusive night’s sleep is not the only issue I have with advancing years. Even on my nice euro top Restonic (and a more comfortable mattress I challenge you to find) at home, I still rise with a groan and more than a few creaks and pops. They could record my morning walk for the new soundtrack of your favorite breakfast cereal. Snap, Crackle and Pop could retire to a villa in the med for all the noise I make. And I have to make such short, little steps just until my body realizes it is walking, and the part of the brain that says “hey, I’m upright…I’d better take over the controls now” does just that.
You would think that the brain would have no problem doing that, though, with all the sleep it gets. If I sit still in a quiet room for five minutes, I yawn. I tell you it is a struggle to stay awake some times. I have to get up and dance a jig to keep the blood flowing in order to stay alert, especially when I have to sit in some of the meetings I am compelled to attend.
Which leads me to another thing: you know how your computer seems so much slower now than when you first got it? The brain is the same way. Why, I used to be able to do several things at once and never miss a beat. Multitasking was the way to go and I went. I could chat on the phone, watch TV, read a book, and cook a four-course meal with ease. On a good day, you could add paint the house and reshingle the roof—but only on a good day. Now if you try to talk to me while I am doing anything, anything at all—walking for example, I have to stop what I am doing to be able to process whatever it is you are telling me. My brain likes to do one thing at a time these days, and some days not even that. It takes a sharp kick in the medulla oblongata to get any neurons firing lately.
But there is one upside to all this: some call it wisdom, but I think it is more simply seeing stupid for what it is. Forrest Gump’s mom used to say “stupid is as stupid does,” and let me tell you that woman was brilliant. All around are people doing stupid things, saying stupid things and generally being—well—just stupid. In the news, politicians do stupid things, celebrities get caught being stupid, and at work, the powers-that-be make stupid decisions.
I find it amusing to see policy changes come down that look suspiciously like policies we used to have several years ago, but got away from because they didn’t work. Change your leadership and some new moron suggests the same lame-brained idea again, and none of the yes-men who remember the first time we tried that debacle will speak up to change his mind, so we do it again. And guess what? It still doesn’t work. It didn’t work then; it doesn’t work now. Einstein said the definition of crazy is doing the same thing over and expecting different results. Corporate America is, by that definition, crazy as a loon, and I get to sit in silent judgment thanks to my advancing years.
So getting older may come with more noises than I am comfortable making and less comfort over all, but at least I can see stupid right in front of me. Of course, with my failing memory, it may be only a matter of time before I forget what it is I am silently laughing at.