There was a time in my life when I thought there would be infinite progress. I would get smarter, stronger, wiser, and more successful incrementally forever. Now I knew this wasn't true, or possible, but I still had the vitality, energy, and most of all, time to believe it.
That ended abruptly in 2013 when I had open heart surgery. Being told I may have been days, weeks, maybe even just hours away from dying suddenly was sobering. And I cam out of my surgery roaring like a lion. After six months of training I found myself in maybe the best overall shape I had ever been in. But it was hell maintaining it. I have lost twenty-five pounds of muscle since the peak of my training cycle two years ago.
Hypothetically, I could become obsessive about my physical condition again, train like a madman, and achieve a body I'm happy about again, but the energy it takes just to get up the damn stairs now convinces me this will never happen. It's not the type of tired I remember when my heart was blocked, but a new kind of tired... being old. I know I can fight it. I do fight it. I do cardio, and walk, and as much resistance exercise as I have time and energy for, but I'm getting smaller, weaker, tighter, more decrepit.
That's just the physical aspect of my decline. I have no creative energy. I used to read anthologies of younger poets and muse that they could even be in their early forties and still be considered young. Because that art form is so difficult to master it's no surprise when someone even at fifty just starts to hit their creative stride.
But not me. I never got any better at poetry. I never really got any better at anything. I never considered myself in decline before, though. I just felt I would hit my prime later. Now I know whatever prime I had is past. If I were a lion they would relegate me to the fringes of the pride, and eventually kill me off.
I keep searching for something I can get good at this late in life. Something that doesn't require a force of will or boundless energy to master. Maybe I don't even need to be great at it, just good.
It all seems fair to me now.