As a serious, if aging and battered jock, he was looking around and wondering how to make the transition from where he'd been to where he was going.
The saw: "If I had known I was going to live so long, I'd have taken better care of myself ..."
I knew guys who lived fast and hard and expected they'd die young. Some of them did. But against the odds, some of them who assumed that, instead, somehow survived. Woke up one morning gray and wrinkled, tired and aching and pains every whichwhere, looked around, and said, "Son-of-a-bitch! Now what do I do?"
Well, start from where you are ...
It's all relative. You know the story of the ninety-year-old man who goes to see his doctor?
"Doc," he says, "I don't know what's wrong with me. I just don't have any energy these days. I mean, I do my morning three-mile walk, hit the gym, make love to my wife, and I'm exhausted. I hardly have enough energy left to get through three games of bowling after dinner at the steakhouse. What can I do?"
"You can get the hell out of my office. Go write a damned how-to book!"
I'm not the guy to hold myself up as the example here, but I do have some thoughts about it.
First, don't give in and assume that you are over the hill and there's no hope. You can almost always improve your situation. If you have long-standing injuries that can't be fixed, you can learn work-arounds. Nobody has invented the forever pill, and no matter what you do, gravity always wins, but you can effect changes until you get there.
You have two great, cheap tools you can use: Diet and exercise.
If you are twenty-five and still bulletproof, now is the time to start down that road. You won't believe it, but trust me here, you aren't bulletproof. What you do now is going to come back to haunt you. Ask anybody over sixty.
If you are sixty, beat-up and creaky, now is also the time to start down that road. It's not too late to make a difference. There are all kinds of studies that show you can take a sedentary eighty-year-old and start him working out and eating well and make dramatic improvements in his strength and overall health.
Being a fit eighty-year-old might be kind of like being the world's shortest giant, you won't be able to run with the fit young dogs, but you can still beat the couch potatoes to the fridge. There are eighty-year-old guys out there in better shape than I am. Better shape than you, too.
(Yeah, yeah, yeah, you can be a vegetarian, do yoga every morning and tai chi every evening, meditate, and still get cancer or fall over dead from a stroke or heart attack at thirty-five. It happens. You can smoke like Satan, drink a bar full of Irish workmen under the table, and party at the House of the Rising Sun every night until dawn and live to be a hundred, too. If you chose your parents carefully.)
You could get hit by a bus. A big meteor could fall on your house. The Mayans might have been right. No guarantees.
Working out and eating less crap aren't going to amount to a panacea; however, like being a card counter at the blackjack table, they can help you stay in the game. Yeah, the house wins in the long run, but you can shade the odds your way. You might not be able to change the quantity of your life, but you can certainly change the quality. Are seventy-five good years better than a hundred crappy ones? Are thirty great years better than seventy-five good ones? Decide that for yourself and see if excess or moderation is the route you want to travel.
You do have to recognize that you won't be the man (or woman) at seventy that you were at twenty-five. That if you had peaks, you were the strongest guy in the room, the fastest out of the blocks, the unbeatable bad-ass at the bar, you are going to have to let those go. Nature of the organism. You know what happens to the boxing champion who sticks around too long, don't you?
All things must pass:
A forty-year-old NBA pro is on his last legs. There are a couple active ones almost that old. Are there any who are forty-five? No. Oldest one ever made it that far, but the game was different sixty-five years ago when he was playing it.
You aren't going to the Olympics to win the hundred meter dash at age thirty-five, no matter how much you want it.
You can, however, start to take care of yourself at whatever age you are, and be like the ninety-year-old guy complaining to his doctor.
It's all relative.