It’s a sad fact that we’re all getting older. Our youthful enthusiasm to try new things, hang out late, and no fear… well, becomes “less enthusiastic.”
I had an eye-opening, frightful, first-time experience of this aging thing the other night. Damn, it’s hard to realize that what happened could definitely be a result of getting older.
On Tuesday night, I had an experience that jolted me into a different reality and way of thinking.
I attended a meeting of the guys (and gals) who lead motorcycle rides for my club. The meeting was held in a restaurant in a densely-over-developed part of my county, about 12 miles away from my home. As the roads go (and avoiding an overly-expensive tollway), the drive would take about 35 minutes (provided there were no traffic delays). While I don’t like that neighborhood, I have been there dozens of times, so I thought I knew how to get there. To calm my concerns, I even looked at a map and made sure that I knew exactly where to go. But I didn’t bring my GPS — I didn’t want any kind of distractions (bad move on my part, in retrospect.)
It was raining, sometimes hard-pelting and wind-driven. It was hard to see. I planned more time for my trip. Glad I did.
A little background also will help put this into perspective. I am “navigationally-challenged.” That means that I can’t find my way out of a box. I get lost easily. Even in sunny, dry weather — it is not unusual for me to take a wrong turn and drive for miles out of my way. It does not take much to throw me off. If I miss a landmark, do not see a street sign, or go on instinct rather than directions, I often find myself wandering all over the place.
While driving (my truck) on Tuesday night — in the dark and in wind-driven rain — I set myself up for disaster. I was paying such close attention to my driving and the other drivers around me that I missed landmarks, street signs, and turns. Eventually I ended up near the destination, but could not find it. I called someone at the meeting and he gave me more specific directions to get there. I arrived, a bit shaken, but on time (because I left home 30 minutes earlier due to the weather.)
When I left the meeting (which was not over, but it was my time to leave as I must be home by 9pm lest I turn into a pumpkin)… I knew where I was and where I was going. Or so I thought.
I drove along, found major roads, but somehow, someway, I made a wrong turn and discovered that I was headed west instead of south and if I continued, I would be way off course. (As they say in my state, “if you get to the river, you’ve gone too far.”)
I turned around and took a different route, using an interstate highway for a short part, but I knew that route very well. I arrived home to the arms of my fiance a bit bedraggled and tired, but unharmed.
… at least physically unharmed. But my psyche was shaken to my core.
I am having a serious self-debate about limiting my driving. At least in the dark and in bad weather. I have noticed over the past few years that I have been reluctant to drive my Harley in the dark. When I noticed that, I went to my eye doctor for a checkup. He said that my eyes are fine and my vision is good (20/20 distance.)
Thus begin the challenges of aging. Blecch. But I know that my peripheral vision is narrower, and my visual acuity is not as good as it once was, particularly distinguishing signs and road markings in the dark.
Life is short: come to the realization that you have to accept reduction in capabilities with aging.