Sometimes it is best to err on the side of caution. This, however, has not always been my practice down through the years. In fact, I am not very good when it comes to practicing anything, just ask the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage.
As of late, though, I have been practicing caution like I was going to Carnegie Hall. I am not very good at it yet, but my goal is to come to the point of perfection in the area of caution as it touches my person, particularly my health and well-being. This may be because I have reached that age when most men go through a mid-life crisis.
You can always tell when a man is going through his mid-life crisis. He usually wants to prove that he is as good at 50-something as he was when he was 20-something. Carelessly throwing caution to the wind, he attempts to do something beyond the energy of his existing body. One sure way to tell if a man is having a mid-life crisis is to notice his recent injuries.
Personally, when I was 20 I was not good at anything, which has enabled me to skip my mid-life crisis. I am glad to be 50 (okay, maybe I am a tad over 50) because now when I get tired I can say I am tired and sit down. At 50-something I have absolutely nothing to prove. I am no better or worse than I was when I was 20. It is, as my wife notes, the ageless wonder of incompetency.
The difficulty with growing old is that the old memory juices do not flow as swiftly as they once did. Of course, some of us never had a real gusher in that department anyway. The more memories I have, it seems, the less I am able to recall them in the innocency of their reality. Like the fisherman who tells the size of the one that got away. Memory seems to add or subtract according to the benefit of the person conjuring up the memory.
A big problem a man in mid-life crisis has is that he does not remember how good he actually was when he was 20, unless of course, his wife knew him at that time. If he could, he would not have to try to replicate it when he is 50. This is one of the unique advantages of maturing. Forgetting always leads to exaggerating. And, exaggerating at 50-something leads to injuries. The only purpose of this is to impress people who really are not being impressed.
As we grow older things begin to change, and some things change for the better. For me, when I was 20, I could not admit to anybody that I was tired. I would have been the laughingstock in my community if I would admit any such phenomena. You know what they say about the unlimited energy that young people have. Now that I am in my 50s, I can blame my advancing years on just about anything.
"I love to do that, but at my age I don’t have the energy." This has covered a multitude of sins, for which I am so grateful. Of course, it does have one drawback, when someone in their 80s invites me to go for a walk, what in the world can you say to that?
This next one has to be one of my favorites. "I would love to do that but I have to get home for my afternoon nap." The person will look at me, notice my maturing features and understand that I desperately do need a nap, or something resembling my beauty sleep.
I found one the other week that has proved quite beneficial. I was invited to a function during the evening, which turned out to be a rather boring affair. Once the meal was over people were milling around engaged in small talk. Nothing bores me quicker than small talk. Not knowing what to do, I pondered the situation for some time. Then, like lightning from the heavens, I was struck with a brilliant idea. I went up to my host and said, "I’m sorry, but it is getting near my bedtime and I have strict orders from my doctor to go to bed early. You’ll have to excuse me."
It worked like a charm. Everybody understood that a person of my age needs to go to bed early. I do not know who thought this up, I think it was probably Benjamin Franklin, but whoever it was, I owe them a steak dinner. It has now become part of my get-out-of-boring-situations arsenal.
I was thinking about this the other day when another good excuse popped into my head. Somebody invited me to come and play softball. At the time, they caught me off guard and I was trying to wiggle out of such an invitation. Then it dawned on me. "I am sorry, I would like to but my health insurance does not cover that kind of activity."
Whether my health insurance would cover that, I have no idea, but neither does anybody else; only my doctor knows for sure.
While I was pondering this, I was reminded of a word from the Proverbs. "Whoso boasteth himself of a false gift is like clouds and wind without rain" (Proverbs 25:14 KJV).