by Dave Friant
End of another year about to be penciled-in on the scoresheet. Another twelve months in the books. Performing activities that only a few years ago required less exertion physically and thought processes mentally to achieve. We’ve done it. Our docs have come through with ailment solving interventions and roadmaps for sustained good health. While applauding their tireless professional efforts, it’s also been quite the task individually for some still kickin’ relics.
Pitch count. How the dickens does such a phrase find its’ way into an article about senior adulthood? Asked for here is a pardon to my fellow sports junkies in the reading crowd for a minute while I define the term. It’s used by baseball management officials when adding up the number of pitches a pitcher makes during the contest. It’s one of several determiners of how long a hurler can stay in a game before concerns about arm health and future assignments on the mound becomes an issue. Most certainly a delicate issue to resolve.
We’ve all experienced some formidable opponents in our lives – foes that at times knock us for loops as we search for usefulness and re-define purpose in later years. The flip side of joy seems at times to rear its ugly head. “Unavoidable calamities” as noted by psycho-oncologist and author Mindy Greenstein. Seems they mount up like quietly falling snowflakes on a Breckenridge Ski Resort blue run. What can I offer at this point in life given some difficult tanglings in which I’ve been a part? Has my horse not already left the barn? Author Richard Russo notes that “we all shoulder burdens, even if they aren’t equally heavy.”
So here we are. Even though concerning itself with a love connection, Irving Berlin asked “What’ll I Do?” in his 1923 show tune. The ball is squarely in our court.
Some sizeable discouragements seem to crop up more regularly than in past years. Dilemmas with no easy solutions. Loneliness. Personal or family medical realities that have no easy answers. The plight of the country (and world) that seems to be irreversible.
Here’s a sports scenario for consideration as I dig into my bag of jock recollections tidbits. You’re ahead 2-1 and in the 7th inning of a ballgame with a two-hitter going and no earned runs scored by the opponents. The fast ball is becoming less effective as the contest becomes a nail-biter. Not as much command as in earlier innings. Confidence is becoming a factor as to whether you can still retire the side. The pitch count concern is up for discussion as deemed by the skipper. Whatcha got left? Make the effort to go a full nine innings or with class rely on the skills of the reliever(s)? Pulling the plug and heading to the bench is by no means some type of defeat. Providing input on opposition tendencies at the plate can be huge.
Gobs of adages suggest that tending to the concerns or needs of others ironically brings joy to the provider. We’ve all experienced such occasions. Helping the annoying neighbor two doors down with a fence problem. Following up with a phone call to the fellow church attender who referenced a cancer diagnosis a week earlier. Being genuine as the means of motivation appears to be the key. It’s not to check some “do-gooders” box for validation, nor to tally up scripturally referenced rewards when we meet our Heavenly Father. Seems to me that focusing on others are matters of the heart. The resulting joy is the Final Jeopardy correct answer (actually “What is resulting joy?” if you’re a follower of the game). Although some may be received, no expectations of resulting “thank-yous”. A favorable experience for the recipient? Possibly. But in no way the basis for the investment.
So can efforts be initiated to be a good steward of time and availability to others? Pitch count totals associated with a variety of “older age” mobility and doubts about relevance issues be set aside to accomplish some joy-producers?
Volunteering and mentoring seem to fall into the category of options for folks of any age. Opportunities are continuously available to most anyone with a workable pulse and not the subject of an old arrest warrant from New Jersey. Hospitals. Schools. Church projects. Non-profits. Caring hearts and wisdom gained over the years can be pivotal in the lives of so many. Re-gaining some momentum in life through different experiences physically and new challenges cognitively can be very healthy.
More innings can be ours. Plenty of pitches left.