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WRITE TEAM: Maybe I am old

Richard Pugh
Richard Pugh

I don’t know if 50 is old, but I am sure at one time I believed so.

Should I live much longer I may come to consider this still quite young. When I watch young people and all the feats they now perform with such apparent ease, I am reminded just what age does to the body.

There are youngsters who flip bikes in midair, do amazing tricks on skateboards, and even more outrageous physical acts of prowess with their bodies alone. While the idea of placing my feet and butt over my head is not yet forbidden to me, I do like to keep parts of my body firmly fixed to the ground while doing so. No longer am I willing to try some of the things I did as a child.

There was a time for that in my life, and it has long passed. But, that is the body only. Being slightly over a half a century old does not deter me, nor many others, from trying and learning new things. Currently, piano lessons take up some of my time. I will never be very good at it, but still, I keep persevering.  

When I was much younger, organ lessons gave me a general understanding of how to read music, though I do not do so quickly.  When the organ lessons ended it was only a few years before I learned to play guitar. That was more about girls than music.  

Then there was the short stint of learning to play the saxophone. The neighbors, I am sure, would think playing should not be quite the word for it. I was not very good at any of those instruments, and have been known to be envious of the gift musicians possess. But now, it is more of admiration and recognition of the dedication and education required of such talent.  

And so it is with most of the arts I now see and hear. Age has brought an awareness and pleasure that surpasses envy. Virtuosos with pencil, paint, camera and crayon, sculptors in wood, marble and bronze, woodworkers, glassblowers, tattoo artists, singers and musicians – the list is endless of the beauty shared with all of us who lack the talent and the gift but are given the ability to perceive and give thanks.  

These columns I write, while enjoyable at least to me, will never be on the level of a Tolkien, a Lee, or a Hemingway. Authors who created images and worlds with words that still portray the essence of the human condition decades after their publication. And the insights I may occasionally happen upon are merely the amalgamation of individuals to whom I listen — a Sowell, a Rosenbladt, a Prager, and just as often a coworker or friend, all of whom have a greater knowledge and understanding than I.  

So, maybe I am old, or maybe, it is just the body. I learn, although slower. I exercise, although slower. I work, gratefully smarter than harder. I listen, more thoughtfully. And, I love and appreciate easier and deeper.

So, maybe not so old.  

RICHARD PUGH, of Ottawa, is enjoying living in the Illinois River Valley. He can be reached by emailing

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