A regular reader of this website also follows my photography work for newspapers and one the web and my political columns on a national political website and, over coffee recently, asked “how do you do it?”
“Do what?” The question did raise some confusion.
“All that you do. You’re 70 years old. Have you ever thought of slowing down?”
I laughed and told her that I people have told me to slow down for more than 50 years. I worked full-time when attending high school in Floyd County in the early 1960s, too a full-time reporting job while attending college and had time to do side work while working as a full-time journalist and later as a political operative.
Sleep? Gave it up for Lent in 1963 and kept it that way for the past 57 years.
Work is my profession, my hobby and my dominate pastime. It is what I do and I cannot imagine doing anything else.
With that said, a series of medical exams, scans and x-rays and a lingering cough that defies diagnosis or successful treatment has me thinking on ways to reduce my workload and perhaps slow down — a little — in life.
After adding 20 unneeded pounds over the winter, I now spend three mornings a week in the Floyd Fitness Center for cardiovascular exercises and two afternoons at Peak Rehab for work on my legs that were injured in a motorcycle accident in 2012, re-injured again when a pickup pulled out of a side road entering Virginia Rte 8, forcing me to lay my bike down, and again last September when a neighbor’s dog ran out in front of my bike and sent it and me crashing down onto surface-treated Sandy Flats Road.
My body is shopworn, thanks to driving my Shelby Mustang into a rock wall on Sharkey Road at age 19, a helicopter crash in a place I wasn’t supposed to be in 1971 and other mishaps which range from a collision at home plate in a softball match in Washington in 1966 to a collision with a black steer and a motorcycle in 2012.
Wife Amy estimates that I am on life 19 or 20 of my “nine lives” and her list continues to rise.
“You are incredibly lucky,” one of the doctors who treated me after the cow-motorcycle crash after I woke up on Dec. 5, 2012 — 17 days after the Nov. 9 accident. When Carilion discharged me on Dec. 24, he wrote on my discharge papers that I was “a walking miracle.”
We shook hands on that day of departure, I thanked him. His answer: “Don’t thank me. Your wife and your brother said you are too stubborn to die. Your medical records show more than five decades of beating the odds. Your luck will run out some day.”
He’s right, of course. Life is a finite period for each of us.
May we enjoy every day that we can and make the most of it.