Here's a quote for you "The first half of life consists of the capacity to enjoy without the chance; the last half consists of the chance without the capacity." (Mark Twain)
I've recently been granted a golden opportunity, of which I can say I took the most complete advantage, to truly understand this quote. I've never read it before tonight. But a recent back injury, incurred while lifting Isaac out of the back of my car, has got me thinking that I'm not 25 anymore. It's also got me reading a bunch of quotes about aging. And Mark Twain's "chance without the capacity" really caught my funny bone.
Two doctors and one chiropractor all agree that I've seriously strained some muscles in my lower back. But Experience has a different point to make: for example driving for even 30 minutes anywhere, and then coming home, means an agonizing morning to come. Also, "thou shalt not sit or stand comfortably in one place for more than 5 minutes at a time," and "thou shalt beg thy wife to tie thy shoes" appear to be among the more salient of the many commandments of Experience.
You would think that nearly 2 weeks would be enough to put the old man back on his feet, but that is apparently not the case. Today I elected not to drive to Peterborough with my family, and tonight I decided not to go casting glo-spoons off the nearby pier; not just because I have to concentrate on getting better (so I can get back to work), but because I risk some pretty nasty consequences should I not follow the octogenarian rhythm of my inferior vertebrae.
This brings me back to Twain's quote. My back woes have kept me away from work for almost two weeks. Under more favorable circumstances, this should have provided for an opportunity to tangle with some Chinook salmon, but I have simply not had the means. My rods and lures sit in the basement collecting cobwebs and dust, and I've been looking at my fly box with less relish and hope than I have at my little bottle of Tylenol 3's. My empty waders, hanging from their hooks, fill me with dread at the prospect of the horrifyingly painful task of having to lift my legs, bend them inward (OUCH!) and then plunge them into place, one by one.
When something you love scares you this much, just because of the acute physical discomfort it may cause, it's a sure sign of old age! In other words, "The years teach much which the days never knew." (Ralph Waldo Emerson)