When Things Change
by “KP,” Doctor of Chiropractic and Physical Therapy
|KP, Doctor of Chiropractic, PT|
[EDITOR’S NOTE: A few days our blogging friend “KP” offered to share this article with FreeThinke’s Blog. Not only is KP a Doctor of Chiropractic and a licensed physical therapist, he is also a fine athlete, great physical specimen, and an all around good fellow who is pleased to take on the role of Goodwill Ambassador wherever he finds himself. For all these things we applaud him, and are more than pleased to share his knowledge and insights with you.]
As we mature and move onward, so does the way we view our health, and by extension, performance.
Performance can be measured in the work place, in a home setting, in our communities, as mentors or in any number of athletic endeavors. Then there are the all-important measurements done “in our heads.” Each area probably ages in different ways and some of them seem to overlap.
Readers have probably heard the expression “getting old sucks.” I imagine that saying came from somebody who was aging because aging supplies that kind of context. Drilling deeper, a guy or gal expressing that feeling, in any number of ways, is probably holding onto some strong memories of “what it used to be like.”
To be clear, in my view, there is nothing wrong with holding onto memories of the good old days unless the memories make the good new days seem less good. Making the present seem less attractive by focusing on memories of the past is not productive; and unless you live alone or in a cave it has the unintended risk of affecting those around you.
To be fair, relative high levels of performance do not happen by accident; and that means we invested years, countless hours, sacrifice and an emotional toll that went into a personal best in any area of a life. Hopefully, the hard work and success brought a modicum of lasting happiness. If not, it could be viewed as time spent in an odd way.
There are legitimate reasons why a person would let a skill fade or disappear that they had worked a decade or more to master. Perhaps no longer being able to employ that skill at a level that was once a “joy” is enough of a reason. I don't offer any judgment. I have enough trouble trying to figure me out, let alone somebody else’s motivation.
I recently enjoyed an indie film titled “The Last Quartet”. In it, Christopher Walken plays a hypersensitive aging cellist. He is diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and knows cannot continue to perform at a world class level for long, so he plans to stop playing music altogether. He proposes to the quartet that he retire after they perform Beethoven’s celebrated String Quartet No. 14 in C-sharp minor (Op. 131). He explains to a music class that this technically and physically demanding work must be played without pauses for more than 40 minutes, leaving the musicians no time to retune between movements.
Done badly, Walken’s character explains, the piece can end up a mess. The metaphor of music as life is clear. “What are we supposed to do?” he asks of Beethoven’s quartet. “Stop? Or continually adjust to each other up to the end, even if we are out of tune?”
I propose that we continually adjust to ourselves and changing environments. I wish I had started riding my bike in a serious way 50 years ago. I'd be really good at it now! And that reminds me of something the exchange I had with my future wife, Laurie, a professionally trained jazz saxophonist, thirty-five years ago:
KP “I wish I could play the saxophone like you do.”
LP: “Apparently not badly enough.”
LP: “Apparently not badly enough.”
That was a very direct message. She had practiced four hours a day for ten years. That is work ethic; no accident. When she passed on her wisdom to me she was nineteen and I was twenty one. It is still some of the most significant advice I have ever received. It's never too late.
Keep it rolling….