I’ve broken or bruised ribs four times in my life. One each for skiing, hockey, basketball, and one drunken occurrence for which memory is lacking. I’m in this halfway immobilised state now, courtesy of a relatively mild elbow on the court three weeks ago, which is still keeping me largely off my typical gym pace.
It feels like a fucking eternity. It’s the first time I’ve wrecked my ribs in six years, and none of the rest of them took nearly this long to sort themselves out. But it’s par for the course, and easily the most noticeable aspect of hitting one’s thirties: you just can’t heal as fast. This runs true across hangovers, illnesses, injuries. As memory lengthens, so too does your recovery.
It seems to coincide with a period of time when you begin to grow impatient, or even desperate, for that big change. Or maybe it just serves to underline the growing awareness of a ticking clock on your truly productive years. I always postulated that the spongey adaptive quality that defined my earlier travel years might wane as time passed, and creature comforts, and routine, became more friendly or familiar. I have fought the dying of the light, but in truth, it is comforting to know that I’ve got a warm bed with food in the fridge, and good friends at the pub.
The popular notion exists that 20 is the new 30, 40 is the new 30, and a whole host of other trendy articles about the eternal option of reviving your youth. I’m not so sure. When I think back to the pace that myself, and a few good friends maintained in the height of our balls-to-the-wall phase, there is not the slightest chance I have the energy now. We were young, stupid, and living large. Work all day in the sun, physical work, with heavy gear and machinery, and the responsibility for guests and fellow crew. Crush a bottle of rum for dinner, fuck all night, sleep for a couple of hours, and arrive at work (relatively) fresh. One day of that, and now, I’m laid low for half a week.
It stands to reason that getting your proverbial shit together isn’t the result of an epiphany, or becoming bored with excess. You simply can’t do it, physically, any more. Waiting around for one’s retirement to travel and live large is like waiting until your dream car has half a million clicks on it before you take it out; it might run, it might get you there, but at a pretty average pace, with a lot of work thrown in to get it out of the garage every morning.
Not that this will stop us from trying. Salut, and rage on.