Old Riders never stop, they just learn to SLOW DOWN...
"Getting down to the short rows" is an old farm term meaning you are approaching the end of a project. This can be good or bad, depending mostly on attitude.
Life is much the same way. Although I try not to dwell on it, I do notice the rows beginning to get shorter. There are a few bits of information not perceived at earlier ages. There are of course the negative aspects; more frequent and persistent aches and pains and the associated time and costs of keeping doctor appointments, the sometimes distressing inability to do some of the physical things we have always taken for granted. But these pale in comparison to the positive rewards, again, not perceived at earlier ages.
Earlier, we looked forward to being retired, free to do a myriad of things heretofore unattainable. This is good, but only a small part of the story. The idea is rather abstract and difficult to convey to the younger working person, because the real satisfaction of reaching the 'short rows' comes from the very things that may have seemed to be almost insignificant at an earlier age. Perhaps this is the cause and effect of the 'generation gap' we hear so much about.
Life's greatest satisfaction now begins to come from family and friends and shared adventures, rather than just places and material things. Try to judge your success by what you had to give up in order to get it.
To quote a good friend, who I won't name (his initials are Eldon), "Remember who you are".
Without the pressure to perform in the workplace or be impressive at the club, we can relax, be who we really are, and enjoy it. This is a lot easier and more fun in the short rows. Younger people nearly always want to help and we do appreciate help when it is needed. What we do not want is unsolicited help with things we can still manage. We desperately want to do it ourselves as long as possible.
As someone once said 'We live out our lives in quiet desperation' but I for one will not 'go quietly into this good night'.
Although, as advice for others approaching the short rows, you might keep in mind that we do ride with diminishing senses, such as hearing, sight, reflexes, and need to adjust riding habits accordingly. Also, it is acceptable to step up on the bike from the footpeg while still on the side or centerstand, somewhat like mounting a horse, rather than trying to look cool while getting that leg over from the ground.
And above all, remember the old saying "There are old riders and bold riders, but NO old, bold riders!"
Copyright © 1999 by William H. Custer. All rights reserved.