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Aging Gracefully

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Today I want to talk about aging gracefully… and then at some point in the future, I’d like to do it.

I’ll turn 58 in a couple of months and this aging thing is something I’ve been thinking about as I consider my sporting future.

You see I would like to try to play competitive hockey, a sport I am quite new at.

In the United States where I grew up, hockey was seen as a girls’ sport so there was no opportunity to play before I moved to England.

When I couldn’t get a game after two years of training at the hockey club where my daughter plays, however, I began to think my career had ended before it began.

For a while I considered looking for a game at other clubs but then I decided the graceful route would be to concentrate on less competitive forms of exercise such as walking, and yoga and leave the ball bashing to the younger generations.

My thinking changed, though, when an English football legend decided to leave the team he loves.

I’m talking, of course, about Steven Gerrard who announced last week that he will be playing for the Los Angles Galaxy next season because Liverpool think he is too old to play every game.

Gerrard doesn’t agree, so he is moving on, and from what I’ve heard and read he is doing it in a very graceful way.

Liverpool pay the midfielder more each week than many people in the developing world earn in their entire lives, so it’s hard to argue the team have treated him poorly.

All the same, the England star says he would have preferred to stay at the club he has supported all his life.

Before we move on with this idea that Steven Gerrard and I might have something in common I think we should pause to recognise that talking about a 34-year-old super fit athlete as being ‘old’ is also quite ridiculous.

From where I’m sitting Gerrard looks like a kid; to Liverpool’s management team, he’s over the hill. Obviously ‘old’ is a relative idea.

One important point here is that Gerrard doesn’t see himself as old and he still wants to play every game, so that’s what he is going to try to do.

I, on the other hand, just want the chance to play one competitive match.

Anyway, I’ve decided if Steven Gerrard is willing to leave Liverpool to keep playing football full time, I should be willing to leave my hockey club to see if anyone else will give me a game.

The other point is that regardless of whether I get a game or whether or not I play well and get a regular place on a team it is still worthwhile to keep pushing myself to improve… as long as that’s what I want to do.

I’ve often heard people say they don’t do this or that anymore because they got too old for it, but I believe many people can’t do a lot of things they used to be able to do simply because they stopped doing them.

Maybe that’s it then; maybe the key to aging gracefully is to keep trying to do the things you want to do… and then to be kind to yourself regardless of the results.