As the year 2017 draws to a close and the world is trying it’s utmost best to go hell in a hand-basket, I share with you the following utterly random and sometimes shallow observations:
- Adversity: “There is neither happiness nor unhappiness in this world; there is merely the comparison of one state to the other. Only a man who has felt ultimate despair is capable of feeling ultimate bliss.”—Alexandre Dumas” I know this sounds like a proud parent speaking (guilty as charged) but my daughter is highly intelligent, motivated, outgoing, opinionated, athletic, pretty and inquisitive. She is self-driven and constantly striving to learn new things. Consequently she has encountered a lot of success in school, sports and is a natural leader. She hasn’t really encountered that many bumps in the road in life until now, with the exception of her parents divorce (which was amicable as those things go). Recently she has encountered a health issue that, even though it’s temporary, is the sort of thing that puts you on a crash course for learning some of life’s hard truths. She’s learning a lot about the importance of character, both in herself as well as others. She has always been a popular kid, but this experience has allowed her see who her true friends really are. (Lo and behold, her true friends “just happened” to be the ones her parents liked – to paraphrase Richard Pryor’s Mudbone “you don’t git to be old by bein’ no fool”). Life is not fair and it’s periodically filled with physical and/or emotional pain. She’s learning that sometimes the only thing to do is to hang on and to keep fighting. Both her mother and I faced more than our share of adversity when we were my daughter’s age. My Ex used that experience to forge an absolute iron will to succeed which she still has to this day. I used my experience as an excuse to go off the rails and add self-induced adversity to the equation until I finally smartened up. I’m happy to say that my daughter takes after her Mom, her Grandmother (my mother) and her Aunt (my sister) in choosing the correct reaction to adversity. She is fighter, she knows her worth and she’s nobody’s fool. I couldn’t be prouder of her.
- Injury: On a somewhat lighter, more sports related note, I recently injured my left rotator cuff in the weeks leading up to a competition, and then tore a muscle in my right hamstring a minute before my first squat in said competition. The rotator cuff injury happened 3 weeks before which meant I couldn’t bench anymore (my best lift) and to be honest I probably shouldn’t have been squatting either. I continued to train the movements I could do and hoped that I’d be able to compete in some, albeit diminished, form. On the day of meet, I realized that I was able to bench if I respected absolute strict form (always the best policy anyway) and utilized lats, triceps and leg push as much as possible. Then, a minute before my first squat, I managed to tear my hamstring simply by taking a 25kg plate of the bar when I was off-balance. It literally hurt to walk. While it was a stupendously stupid move, I continued the competition and was able to do a good squat of my opening weight on my 3rd attempt. To say it hurt a great deal would be pretty close to the truth. I then was able to bench press and consequently set a world record (WR) for the age\weight category in the federation that I compete in. By this time, I was literally hobbling so I deadlifted 70kg once (a very humbling experience) to finish the competition and called it a day. It’s funny, but I got much more props from fellow competitors, team members and judges for that injured squat than I did for the WR bench. Fast-forward 6 weeks – my hamstring is healing nicely due to regular physical therapy sessions and intelligent training. My rotator cuff is more of a longer term issue. This effectively means I can’t do any movement that utilizes the shoulder to a great extent (low bar squat, overhead press and dips, for example) and I haven’t really been training legs hard due to my injury. Faced with this reality, I’m doing what I can: light safety bar squats, Wenning belt squat machine, strict form flat bench, farmer carries, glute ham raises (carefully). I am also using machines for things like leg extensions and “light” leg curls, which is something I don’t normally do. I’m concentrating more on core training than I usually do. It’s frustrating, but doing nothing is out of the question. Lessons learned: mobility work is essential and tis a far, far better thing to listen to your body and back off a set than to be out of the game for a few months.
- Dating or what’s with this older man/younger woman thing : I know this going to sound disingenuous, but I never seriously considered dating a much younger woman until recently. Let’s be honest, if I went on a dating app and stated a preference for pretty 25 year olds I’d get absolutely no responses except for catfish scams. Unless, perhaps, I took one or two casual pictures in a recent model 911 with an understated Patek Phillipe on my wrist. Sadly, as I know from at least one acquaintance, this approach works albeit it attracts exactly the sorts of women you’d expect. It’s baldly “transactional” in nature, but provided he gets what he wants, he isn’t complaining.. In any event, about 2 years ago I stopped actively trying to rustle up dates as I’ve been busy with work, my kids’ activities and, of course, powerlifting. Also, I won’t sugarcoat this, dating women my age when I was 42 was fine but 8 years later it’s another situation entirely. I know this is unfair and I know only too well how hard menopause hits some women physically and mentally. A dear friend has been dealing these changes for about 2 years now and I can see how she is being whipsawed by the experience (see above re: adversity). So a certain percentage of women my age are undergoing disorienting physical changes and consequently they’re not really in the mood for dating. Almost completely by accident, I have dated some women in their mid-20s recently. All of these situations were initiated by the women themselves and came about, I think, simply because I was out there, pursuing my interests and having fun. I literally spoke to these women the way I’d speak to anybody else and wasn’t even considering an ulterior motive. Yes, I understand one of the main reasons younger women date older men but I wasn’t picking up the tab any more or less than I’d do normally with woman closer to my age. (News flash – some women, irrespective of age, will expect nonstop expensive restaurants, trips and gifts, while most others won’t. When I was freshly divorced I fell rather hard for a physically attractive age appropriate woman who expected wining and dining of a certain level, nothing less was acceptable. Never again. I am not cheap, it’s the crassness and lack of imagination that I find objectionable). So, other than money, why would a younger women date an older guy? Maybe it’s because the 50-year-old me is probably a better guy to date than the 25-year-old me (more confident, more accomplished, happier, wiser and still in half decent shape). Perhaps it’s because older guys know what they want, have certain amount of experience with women and are less likely to be drama queens. Maybe it’s because these women are still in an experimental phase whereas women in their 30s are much more focused on getting married, preferably to somebody just a few years older. I don’t really know. And the end result in these cases was really quite positive. Again, had I gone on a speed dating or an internet site to meet these women, it’d have never happened. Attractive 20 something women have a power of attraction that is akin to something like a super-power (this is a fascinating subject – the positive and negative aspects of this power – how it affects the person in question – and what happens when it wanes). Pit that power against a few cheesy photos of a 50 year old man – it’s laughable, not a snowball’s chance in hell. If I hadn’t been out there, pursuing an interest, displaying some sort of “worth”, absolutely no chance. I firmly believe, also, that had I treated these women as potential “hook ups” it wouldn’t have happened either. Finally, these women don’t “do” dating sites or speed dating – they really don’t need to the same way the The Flash doesn’t need to take the subway. Nor do I have a need to date a younger woman at all costs. I’d like to think that we see are capable of seeing each other as unique human beings and not as a type. I find it creepy when people of either gender express a clear preference for a certain race or type to exclusion of all others. Needless to say, I don’t discuss this older/younger thing that much with my female friends as it tends to be, as they say in French, “un sujet qui fache” (Loosely translated, a touchy subject). For the record, y’all, I’d love to meet a happy, in-shape, cultured and intelligent woman closer to my age. It’s just that those situations are not presenting themselves. To be continued…
- Training goals for 2018: My goals for the upcoming year are to recover full use of my right hamstring and left shoulder, squat and deadlift for reps at least 60kgs more than my 1RM for bench, add 10kg to my 1RM bench press and, finally, to drop about 9 kgs bodyweight while preserving strength. By the end of the year I want to be clearly the only game in town regarding my age and weight class. As an aside, I have always found bodybuilding-style training tremendously boring, but since I’ve recently been unable to low bar squat, deadlift, overhead press, etc I have had to concentrate on more body building style training that targets isolated muscle groups. You know what, I get it now, sometimes esthetic gains are nice and that whole pump thing is fun. But being strong is more fun.
Happy holidays, everyone! If you’ve made it to the end of this post you certainly deserve an eggnog or any other libation of you choice. All the best to you and yours in the new year!