A Tale of Three Bicycles

My latest newsletter, about giving up my old bike and why.

I loved hearing back from a subscriber, who responded with a story of a doctor who tells his patient, “I’m sorry, I can’t make you any younger.”

“I don’t want to get younger,” responded the patient. “I want you to help me get older.”

2 thoughts on “A Tale of Three Bicycles

  1. From friend and ally Betsy Martens: I had to give up biking altogether when my balance started to go. But prior to that milestone, there was the crossbar crisis. At a certain point, I simply could not physically clear the seat (which is even higher than the crossbar) and keep on going. I think it might have something to do with hip flexors. Biking was such a part of my identity that this really bit deep. I can still remember the joy of putting my right foot on the pedal, pushing off, and then throwing my left leg over the crossbar and (finally) settling onto the seat, all with the bike moving forward. That little bit of joy signaled the beginning of yet another adventure, whether running errands or riding through the forest on one of Chicago’s many paved paths.

    For some time now, I’ve been trying to clarify for younger friends that not all discussions of the realities of aging are necessarily ageism. Ignoring the physical/mental/emotional realties of aging is a form of ageism, IMO. We need more objective discussion of this, which is why I’m so glad you posted your bike photos, Ashton! FWIW, I think Biden’s is just fine, and I’m sick and tired of hearing the media play up the “He’s too old” meme. He fell off his bike (more of a slow roll to the side as he went down), as have we all from time to time. He speaks slowly, partly because it’s a learned technique for controlling his stutter. Andrea Mitchell speaks slowly, too, as does Mitch McConnell. I think the jury is still out on Diane Feinstein. Her, I’m worried about. Me, I just turned 79 and I notice some wear and tear, but I’ve lived a very active life, with sports injuries galore.

    1. I couldn’t agree more that it’s important to talk about aging in all its complexity, and not downplay the difficulties. That’s why I talk about the value of a realistic or accurate attitude towards aging, rather than a positive attitude, which suggests glossing over the difficulties.

      Note that much apprehension around aging has to do with how our minds or bodies might change over time. That’s not ageism, it’s ableism: lots of younger people are disabled and many olders are not. Search this blog under “ableism” for my thoughts on why it’s important to understand where how both forms of bias operate, where they differ and overlap, and why it matters — especially in a world of longer lives.

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