You're only as old as you feel

By Chuck Kajer, Managing Editor

Since turning 50 years old two months ago, I've found it harder to deny something that my kids seem to want to remind me of constantly.

I'm getting old.

There are all sorts of signs of my advancing age (including my advancing waistline and my graying hair which, at least, hasn't begun to recede too much). Some of the signs are humorous... Over the last few years I'd laugh when I'd get cards in the mail encouraging me to sign up for The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP). I'd toss them in the garbage and make a comment that I'm not that old yet.

Well, I may not be ready for retirement yet, but as of two months ago, I'm eligible to join the organization.

Seeing some of your childhood sports heroes is also kind of sobering. Just this weekend I saw former Minnesota Viking Jim Marshall on TV. Marshall held, until last weekend, the NFL record for consecutive games played by a non-kicker. His streak started when I was barely out of diapers and it ended about the time I started college.

Marshall is now 71 years old. He's had his ups and downs during his retirement from pro football, but overall, he's aged gracefully.

Of course, for those of us who feel we're getting old, there's always the story of the man who broke Marshall's record last weekend - current Vikings quarterback Brett Favre. The fact that Favre is able to play pro football - and with the exception of this past Sunday - do it well, is an inspiration for those of us who are beginning the stage of our lives where it takes five to 10 minutes in the morning for our muscles to loosen up before we can venture down the stairs without a groan or a grimace.

Some people say that being around kids will keep you feeling young. That may be so when the kids are younger, but I live with two teenagers and get occasional visits from my 23-year-old son. Their interests and activities sometimes remind me that times have changed a great deal from the 1970s and 1980s, when I was there age.

Sometimes I'll have the radio on in the car, listening to what songs that people my age call Classic Rock. To me, Classic Rock is something from the 1970s or 80s, such as The Eagles or Bruce Springsteen. Those songs are 30 years old now. When I was their age, there was no rock music that was 30 years old, because Rock music didn't make its debut until the mid-'50s. Music that was 20 years old, was considered Oldies music.

I had another realization of just how old I am this weekend. After the New Prague-Barnum girls basketball game at the Tip Off Classic, the next game was between Caledonia and Chaska. One of the starters for Caledonia was the daughter of one of my volleyball players when I coached in western Minnesota 22 years ago. I guess that shouldn't surprise me, but it did.

Twenty years ago, I considered people my age as old. I couldn't fathom what it was like to be around for 50 years. Now that I've gotten to that point, I'm beginning to reconsider what old is. The fact is, while there are signs of aging, I really don't' consider myself to be old. To me, old is off in the distance, about 15 to 20 years away. Yeah, it takes me awhile longer to get going some days, but once I get going, I still feel relatively young.

And I guess, if you feel young, you've got the battle half won.

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