As I’m getting older I understand the phrase “elderly curmudgeon” It’s a late symptom of the terminal disease called life.
Humanity is of little or no interest to a curmudgeon, what he most desires from others is that they leave him alone. He’s not trying to offend people, he just sees no point in pleasing them either. It doesn’t matter if people don’t understand you, they ought to, but if they don’t it’s their fault. There young and foolish, so there’s no point in talking about their ideas, until they grow up. We’re crusty, ill tempered and USUALLY old men, so ladies, I have to include you in this as well.
We need to combat the symptom just as aggressively as we do a knee degeneration. If we want to live a long and happy life, into our “grey hiking” years. As older hikers we do face special challenges, our youth can’t naturally protect us anymore. We can’t just show up with a pearly white smile and expect that to be enough.
Sixty isn’t the new forty
This is another narcissistic mindset so often associated with us curmudgeons. We think we’re ageless with a free pass to the fountain of youth. If we work out at all, most of us aren’t focused on climbing over boulders, powering up hills, or recovering from falls. In particular controlling the down hill on uneven ground where knee problems, and tendonitis love to live. Like most baby boomers I have an accumulation of injuries as well as many of the standard age related problems.
These are offset with experience, motivation and a healthy case of attitude. I’ve turned 65 on the trail and still have a competitive mindset. I want to do everything I can to be fit and ready, and be able to hike on. If I throw in the towel, I need to know that I left it out on the trail and there was nothing more that I could have done.
Many times in our life we see our dreams shattered and our desires frustrated, but we have to continue to dream. The”good fight” is the one we fight because our heart asks it of us. When we are young and our dreams first explode we are very courageous, but we haven’t learned how to fight for them properly. With age, we’ve learned how to fight, but sometimes we lose the courage to do combat for our dreams. We turn within and start doing battle with ourselves and in doing so become our own worst enemy. Killing our dreams because we become afraid to fight the “good fight” on the external battlefields.
Grey hiker reality check
I’m proud of being part curmudgeon there is still strength in my legs and a spring in my step. As I make my way beside a meandering stream, I still have an endless enthusiasm in my heart for all things outdoors and wild. Most of all I’m a realist, hiking can=pain, unless we ground our dreams in our external reality.
“I don’t mind huffing and puffing for hours, I just want to be out there for the fun of it” Lee “easy one” Barry. “That hike was pure joy, with the focus no longer on whether or not we could finish. Just enjoy how much fun it was to spend months in the wilderness” Ray Jardine “I’m not on vacation, I’m not here for the weekend, this is where I live” said George “Billy goat” Woodward. Who spends six months of every year hiking the “pacific crest trail” in his late seventies. As Emma “Grandma” Gatewood said to Ray Jardine after becoming the first woman to complete a through hike of the Appalachian trail at 67 years of age. “Most people are pantywaists” a very appropriate feminine comment.
The younger generation have good ideas.
The younger generation nowadays are setting examples that us curmudgeons find hard to follow. Some negative incidents hamper lots of good intention. We can learn a lot about being creative and thinking out of the box and being innovative with our thinking. They are an arrogant lot and yes arrogance is required nowadays. They give no consideration to what others might think and in this post truth era, they do what “they” think is right. Belief in ourselves, is the best thing we can learn from the younger generation. As society is failing to value and harness older peoples skills, knowledge and experience.
Older people are seen as a “drain” in a society infatuated by the cult of youth. While this division remains, there will always be words for symptoms that don’t need to exist. On the trail, there is a “bringing together”of young and old in a mutual shared experience. My knee degeneration has improved, with less pack weight and the use of hiking poles for difficult down hill sections. I now wish I had listened to some of the younger hikers earlier in the game. As they do have good ideas, but as a curmudgeon I could never admit to that.