Before Thursday, I couldn’t tell you how long it’d been since I’d last used the word “spry.”
It describes an energetic and active elderly person, but it’s become a cliché, which is one of the reasons I haven’t used it often.
The other reason is I’ve met a few seniors who were annoyed by the word.
In the past, I could more or less understand their objections. Spry implies a certain amount of cuteness, and a lot of full-grown adults don’t want to be associated with cute things.
But I had a rare moment on Thursday when the usual fog lifted and I could see clearly for years and years, if not miles and miles.
Philip Phipps was cutting my hair, causing clumps of white and gray to float gently to the dark, wooden floor, and the truth revealed itself.
“I need to set a new goal in my life,” I said.
“Oh, yeah?” Philip said.
“I want to be spry. I want to be the kind of old man who annoys his wife by flirting with all the nurses,” I said.
“It’s good to have a goal,” he said.
I went on to explain that I’m of a certain age and need to be realistic about what life still has to offer me.
Though it’s not in horrible condition, this body of mine isn’t what it once was. The problem comes when you project the changes I’ve experienced over the past 10 years into the next 40 years.
A scary question: What will today’s creaks and groans become given the inevitable march of time?
(Of course, I’m hoping for the march of time to continue, knowing full well my participation is more optional than inevitable.)
Suddenly, I’m wondering what it would take for me to achieve some level of spryness in my twilight years.
Maybe medical science will intervene and make the path from here to there easier, though I’d bet quality-of-life-sustaining advances will go to Donald Trump, Jay-Z and company long before trickling down to me.
Barring a lottery win, I’ll have to take charge of my own health. That means doing more of the things that build me up and less of the things that tear me down.
Sounds great in theory.
But the real world has Krystal cheeseburgers and many wonderful-yet-terrible things like them.
How much goodness do we have to give up in order to live the good life? For our answer, let’s borrow from Credence Clearwater Revival and say, “More, more, more.”
My rare glimpse into the future gets cloudy again, and the spryly ideal becomes far-off and unreachable, an exotic mountain peak beyond a turbulent sea.
So today I suggest we praise those who’ve taken everything life’s thrown at them and emerged spry on the other side. Cute or not, it’s an accomplishment worth celebrating and, if we’re lucky, emulating.
M. Scott Morris is a Daily Journal feature writer. Contact him at (662) 678-1589 or firstname.lastname@example.org.