Act your age, damn it!

It was about 15 years ago. I still lived in the city and was at the climbing gym with a friend. As we were trying to climb our routes, we were surrounded by a kid’s birthday party with 20 rambunctious climbers scrambling around frantically.

I noticed all the parents sitting on the sidelines watching, and I said to my friend, “Why don’t these people climb with their kids instead of watching, what’s wrong with old people?

She quickly commented that she knew a bunch of these parents and told me that I was actually older than them. Apparently, in my mid 30’s, I related better to the kids than their parents.

These days I periodically get people in the shop explaining that they can’t ride the hard core stuff anymore, because “I’m pushing 40” or “I have kids now and responsibilities” or “I’m old and my body doesn’t recover as quickly.”

I have to admit, now that I am in my 50’s and I have kids, responsibilities, and a body that hurts, there are days I think maybe I should act my age and slow down a bit. But what does “act your age” really mean?

Should I act as society dictates a 50 year old guy should? Am I locked into what 50-year-old men acted like generations ago? Or, can I dictate what 50 should look like?

As I roll up to a big steep rock face on my mountain bike, I never think about what an old man would do in this situation, I don’t contemplate how my responsibilities will be handled if I crash, and I don’t think about my kids being disappointed in me for not “acting my age”. I think about the best line choice and I find my best chance at success, then I ride, just like I did 20 years ago.

I’m pretty sure I don’t act my age, and I don’t plan on starting any time soon. Maybe when ‘m 70 I’ll act 50 … but probably not.

I’m James Durand and I ain’t dead yet…