Break a Leg!
Patrick M. Kennedy
This is a well-known idiom in theatre which means ‘good luck.’ It is typically said to actors and musicians before they go on stage to perform. Of course luck or chance is fortune, whether bad or good, which occurs beyond one’s control, without regard to one’s will, intention, or desired result. The origin of the phrase is obscure, but there are many speculations that it came from bowing or curtsying to royalty, the Greeks stomping instead of clapping, the Romans cheering the gladiators to keep their lives and only cripple the other opponent by breaking his leg, and on and on. But dancers don’t want people to say ‘break a leg’ when they go on stage because that is the last thing they want.
Of course, on the other side of the coin, neither do seniors want the chance or fortune of ‘breaking a leg’ because that can hinder their route to the book store, candy store, or the drug store to stock up on a pain killing creams. It can cause other problems for seniors like a bad leg for life and maybe pain for life and the dependence on a wheel chair or walker; nobody wants that. Then there is the problem of walking around with a cast on your leg for several weeks, and maybe with a cane or a pair of crutches, and there goes your image and any chance of attracting that special person unless they are a nurse or doctor.
And maybe on the lighter or animal side of the coin is a life of exercising and stretching to keep in shape. Things like quadriceps stretches, hamstring stretches, lower back lifts, and chair rotations, which is probably the easiest exercise because you are sitting in a straight back chair twisting and turning.
Without the daily walks for exercise a senior can become grumpy, or grumpier, miss the joy of seeing the scenery outside the living room, avoiding the neighbors barking dog, chatting with neighbors along the way, stopping at the newspaper machine for a daily news, and just plain old keeping hale, healthy and fit to fight off the others at the dinner table. Of course you can follow the advice of Mark Twain, “I have never taken any exercise except sleeping and resting.” Thanks, Mark, but that doesn’t work here. Or better yet the advice of John Adams, “Old minds are like old horses; you must exercise them if you wish to keep them in working order.” And we guess that can apply to old legs as well.
Of course the best advice for avoiding a broken leg is to not become an actor or musician, or stay in your easy chair and never get up, hire a maid to retrieve all your snacks and games, change the channels on the TV, and get into the perfect shape on not being able to walk far enough to break a leg. Now that sounds like good advice, that is, if you want to shorten your life by several years because legs aren’t important to angels and devils; they fly or slink around. “God has placed no limits to the exercise of the intellect he has given us, on this side of the grave,” said Francis Bacon, and the same could be true of the legs.
So, break a leg, that is, good luck with exercising and avoiding casting, meaning the ones on a broken leg, not auditioning for a part in a play.