One might be forgiven for assuming that living at the cottage results in better health. Living simpler, minimalist and hardier lifestyles, eating local, getting exercise and sunshine – these are the staples of the current and prevailing health myth, as we know. Cabin-man: the new senior’s health icon!
They could be wrong.
By that myth’s promises, I should be gorgeous and robust, a picture of senior health. I should be the poster boy for CARP. I am not. I am still built like a fridge with a face like a potato. An old potato. In fact, I seem to be generating a lot of “How are you feeling?’ and “Are you OK?” comments lately. When I went to see my doctor not so long ago, he walked into the room and, without so much as a ‘howdyado’, almost screamed, “Chest pains!!?” I had to calm him down.
To be fair, my personal health seems good even if it obviously isn’t obvious. Mediocre to good, anyway. I think. I’m pretty much OK but I don’t have a coterie of grey-haired groupies chasing me around, that is for sure. Just as well. I can’t run very fast anymore.
And, unlike in my youth, I’d have to run now. I couldn’t handle a group of groupies. A single groupie, maybe. If we were given a whole weekend. Preferably a long weekend. But a single groupie is an oxymoron and, to be frank, any old, grey-haired groupie chasing me around would be, most likely, an oxy-moron with failing eyesight who looks like Frank.
I admit that I was kinda hoping for more. You know; tanned, weathered face, harder muscles and a slightly less Hitchcockian profile? Sean Connery-esque? That kind of thing. But I am not stupid. That is not likely to happen – even in another lifetime. And I have taken steps to cope with that. There has not and there never will be a full-length mirror in this house, I can assure you.
I still think it is a healthier lifestyle, though. And so it has been somewhat proven these past few years as I have weathered visibly, rediscovered the odd muscle group and hardly bought a stitch of new clothing. I have come to think of myself, in comparative terms anyway, as being physically better than I was when I left the city because I am now a bit craggy where before I was a bit saggy. Admittedly, I am also raggedy but there are few who notice that. Not out here; the recycled clothing centre of the universe.
But I am writing about all this because I am beginning to have second thoughts about the health benefits of healthy living.
Firstly, because I am so much more active, I ache all over. All the time. My back has been sore for months. And, worse, dirt seems to be accumulating in the newly formed crags and I think some things are starting to sprout! My skin looks like a garden box in early spring!
Forget about eyesight. Which is not hard to do because forgetting is so much more prevalent, too. But my eyesight is abysmal. I can hardly see the forest for the trees. Literally. There is no question I am pushing the physical envelope and some parts are pushing back in protest.
For instance, I have inexplicably become selectively hard of hearing whenever hard work is mentioned. “Huh? You talking to me? Can’t hear you!” And hard work is mostly mentioned by Sal so she is taking it personally. I am becoming one of those old guys who can only not hear his wife.
I’ll be 65 in a few months. They’ll give me a gold card. I can ride the ferry on weekdays for free. But that is just another myth, really. The car isn’t free and most seniors can’t walk all over Campbell River carrying outboard motors and three weeks of groceries as they go about their business. So the car is necessary and the car has to be paid for. And, surprise – the price of the car on the ferry has gone up 100% in the last few years. So they have managed to claw back the free part of the senior’s ferry ride and then some. They must think us stupid.
Which brings me nicely back on topic. You really can’t beat the aging process. To expect to do so is, in fact, stupid. Steve Jobs was a health nut his whole life. Vegan. Bottled water. Slim. And he died young at around 57. A friend of mine’s father was a war victim and ate every day as if it was his last meal and the more and the fattier the better. He never walked and even had one of those ‘scooters’ old people use to ride around Walmart. He made it to 95.
I came out here partly to live a more healthy life. And it is definitely a more pleasant and enjoyable one. I think it is even healthier. But the results only come in when you check out and so you only know if it was healthier when the information won’t do you much good. So, the point: live off the grid because it is more fun and interesting.
Healthier? We’ll see eventually, I guess.