66

Turning 66 is something I have little control over. The fact that it falls within the second half of the 60’s decade means that I’m now closer to 70 then 60, which seems a little old when I view it thusly. I feel as if I’m legitimately entering advanced “golden age” if you will.

Friends and family are quick to remind me that age is just a number, and of course, you’re only as old as you feel. Hmmm… Admittedly, I’m starting to experience some limitations common to aging, which now seem to outweigh my previously well practiced abilities of denial.

The good news is, I’m not quite ready to be put out to pasture and have chosen to approach this aging dilemma with pure simple logic; I’m a sentient being and, as such, fully aware that life will end. Having this cognition of brevity is a positive motivational insight to live by. It’s a constant reminder to spend my finite time pursuing the things that I’m most passionate about.

Mentally, I feel incredibly healthy. Admittedly, I have moments of forgetfulness that can be frustrating and readily attribute occasional lapses to many years of of stuffing fond memories into such a tiny space. Thankfully, Maggie is here to provide additional memory storage on my behalf. She’s my personal version of the cloud.

Physically, I feel pretty damn good overall. This past year was a bit of a setback regarding missed climbing goals, hernia surgery and a plethora of other minor aging aggravations. Not to worry, a lackluster year typically motivates me to reassess, retool and work harder toward future goals. So here we are in Hueco Tanks to rebuild power, the loss of which is a dilemma common to aging climbers.

Beta-burning on Mopboys, V6.

Admittedly, despite my propensity for denial, my biggest physical limitation relates to declining vision. I don’t get along well with glasses or contact lenses. I’ve tried both, and neither of them liked me. If you see giant, often double, tick marks on routes I’m working, I apologize. I typically brush them off once I’ve developed the kinesthetic sense of proper foot/hand positions, combined with learned autonomous movement. However, it might be a few months before thorough tic mark removal due to that memory thing previously mentioned.

Now that I’m a relic, I’ve naturally become more patient and mindful of fellow senior citizens. If you’re a young climber reading this, please try to be patient with members of the geriatric class when we’re out-and-about. We naturally tend to move at a slower pace navigating roads or trails leading to climbing areas, working out moves on long routes, and pondering our food selection choices in front of you at the local market. Someday- and it happens sooner than you can possibly imagine- you too will be a member of the senior population, and what goes around, comes around. That’s basic Karma. It might be worth keeping this in mind as well, that I or another senior climber may have been the developer of the route, approach trail, or entire crag you are now frequently using. Your mindfulness and patience would be greatly appreciated!

Time keeps on ticking and as luck would have it, my healthy heart does too. Overall, turning 66 seems kind of cool. The older I get, the more I realize how much I still have left to learn. This realization serves as inspiration to continue on the path to knowledge which, in turn, keeps me feeling more alive. Amongst the wealth of lessons growing older has already gifted me, I’m finally ready to accept the right to occasionally play the “age card,” and when convenient, I’ll do so willingly, without regret.

Chuck

All photos 📸: Maggie Odette

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