By the Numbers

Looking in the mirror in front of me at my Zumba class I have a view of most all my fellow classmates behind me. I notice many appear older than average this Monday morning, this first day back from the New Years’ holiday. Not sure if they’ve changed or I have but it occurs to me that most of them are probably younger than I am. This is something I’m not aware of very often as most of the time, I forget how old I actually am.

On our family vacation last week in the Colorado Mountains at nine thousand feet, I felt 104. In the first two days, just lifting a package or climbing a few stairs meant becoming breathless and gasping for air. A sensation of suffocation would wake us in the middle of the night; I suppose in order to remind us to consciously take deeper breaths.  This altitude issue wasn’t on my radar when we made our plans to meet our extended family in a condo halfway to the stars. By the third day, our systems had leveled off enough to feel relatively comfortable in the thinner atmosphere, but I still felt more exhaustion than usual over simple exertions.

But the rewards came, as my son predicted they would, when we returned home to sea level elevation. Our systems having learned to be more efficient were now allowing our bodies to feel, by comparison, vigorous. I found myself energetically running up and down the stairs with the grocery bags, feeling like I was in my 40s again.
This dramatic fluctuation in age range has caused me to question again – is age how we look or how we feel, how others view us, or our own state of mind and attitude? As I continue to learn hip-hop steps in my dance classes, I’ve wondered if staying young might have something to do with continuing to do the movements that healthy young people do. And maybe it helps to not keep track too closely of the years.  I wouldn’t want my mind’s data computations to detract from what the rest of me feels ready and willing to do.

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