A month ago I wrote a blog about a bicycle accident I had. The scrapes and bruises from that mishap had almost healed when I had to climb into a tree to cut out a big branch that had broken off in a storm. I did not fall out of the tree, nor did I fall off the ladder, but I somehow dragged the teeth of the handsaw across my forearm.

I was still wearing a bandage on the handsaw injury when I went fishing on a friend’s dock. Fishing was slow, so I sat down with my feet dangling in the water. Suddenly a Labrador mix puppy came running from the far side of my friend’s house and charged onto the dock. She paused briefly to greet me and then jumped into the river. Unfortunately, she hadn’t yet learned to swim. She frantically dog paddled, but her panicked actions barely kept her head above water. I was close enough to lean forward and grab her by the collar. She clambered back onto the dock, but used my legs as a ramp. The claws on her hind feet took some skin off my shins. 

The little puppy scratches on my legs barely drew blood, but Manyu saw them as part of a pattern. She told me that old men need to be careful. I told her that I would be careful once I got old. I said it as a joke, but I also said it because I think my body can still take a hit as well as it ever has. I spend enough time with people who are fifteen, twenty years my senior to know I’m fooling myself, but I don’t want to be more careful. 

Two of the three incidences (the bike accident and the cut with the handsaw) happened because I wasn’t paying careful attention. My question is whether age was a factor. I am slipping into some of the clichés of old age (e.g., forgetting why I walked into a room, falling asleep while watching tv), but I also focus extremely well when I put my mind to it (e.g., writing for three or four hours every morning, paddling solo in my canoe). 

Last week I wrote about the importance of knowing when to retire from work. Today I am indirectly asking myself whether there are also some leisure pursuits I should retire from. I did not see a connection between the two blogs when I wrote them, but I do now. At this point in life, there are only one or two leisure pursuits I am willing to put aside.* If anything, I am doing almost the opposite by diving into activities I’ve long put aside. Retirement from my job gives me more time to do things where I might get hurt. 

* Physically I can no longer carry a heavy backpack. I’ve stopped rock climbing, but mostly because I didn’t enjoy it in the first place.

Steven Simpson