Of Immortality and TAMFAM
by, February 24th, 2012 at 03:26 PM (3999 Views)
We will grieve not, rather find
Strength in what remains behind;
In the primal sympathy
Which having been must ever be;
In the soothing thoughts that spring
Out of human suffering;
In the faith that looks through death,
In years that bring the philosophic mind.
When Wordworth wrote his famous Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood, I assumed that he, having reached the years that bring the philosophic mind, would have looked something like this:
It turns out that he was actually 37 at the time of penning the Intimations poesy, only a few years older than this earlier picture of him:
I bring this up because I find myself a tweenager these days, one foot in the last days of what I have long considered the cut-off for middle age, i.e., ones 50s; and one foot in, thanks to FINA, the beginning of what I have just as long considered the beginning of old age, i.e., ones 60s.
Regardless of whether I am 59, as the calendar says, or 60, as FINA is allowing me to be, I am chagrined to report that the attainment of "the philosophic mind" continues to elude me.
This is particularly true when it comes to swimming, a sport measured in increments of one hundredths of a second, where the sinking into decrepitude is pitiless and inexorable.
Here is what I actually look like these days in a recently taken cell phone picture with my death robes on:
Here, however, is how I would describe myself to a police artist were I, by some weird magic, to become a victim of my criminal self:
(I am the one too weak too stand; if there is anything good to come from this self-image, it's that the police artist has chosen not to show my own sagging parts, a decency he opted not to bestow upon my female attendant on the right.)
In an effort to try to find some pittance of the philosophic mind before it is too late, before, that is, my long-time companion, Alzheimer's Jr., morphs into its own more pernicious senior self, let me set down herein a few random ruminations on what has provoked my sudden sense of growing old...
- Let us face it, I am growing old.
- For some reason that I can't quite fathom, I am starting to fatten up. Last summer, it was relatively easy to stay sub-180 after swimming practice and a steam bath, a time when dehydration is maximal. In fact, I think I flirted on occasion with the mid 170s then! But this winter, with only a few minor dietary changes, I am lucky to end practice weighing out at a portly dehydrated 183! These dietary changes include, but are not limited to, a decision to use Half n Half on my breakfast cereal; get 80 percent of my daily calories at night while watching TV in bed; and closing down our restaurant, which has changed the hours each day I spend standing from somewhat substantial to practically non-existent. Again, I do not know why I am suddenly getting fat, and I am not sure that weight is a suitable topic anyhow for a "philosophic mind." Enough about this.
- After more or less accepting the illegalizing of the yesteryear's cheater suits, I suddenly find myself missing them. The reason, I suspect, is that the normal year-by-year swimming time erosions, which in the past have proceeded at a psychologically manageable pace, have accelerated, again, for reasons I am not sure I grasp, fathood and old age notwithstanding. Thus one takes an unpleasant enough process to begin with--slowing down--and adds a quantum leaping agent to the mix--the removal of the body suit for hairy old men like me--and the result is a sense of plummeting that may or may not be justified, all things taken into account, but nonetheless is proving troubling for this particular geriatric tweenager.
- I will say that many extremely kind fellow travelers, from Jim Clemmons to Rich Abrahams to Ande Rasmussen (who is actually much too young still to be called a fellow traveler in any sense of geriatric comradeship; ditto for Rich and Jim, who preserve a youthful spirit that lesser men like me lack) have offered no shortage of advice and counsel.
- On Sunday, I will be swimming the 1650. Perhaps, if I do not perform too horrifically, this will remove temporarily any further imminent need of cultivating a philosophic mind. Realistically, however, I suspect this will bring me face to face with the Reaper's halitosis, which I imagine smells like daffodils and rotten meat.
- Back soon to resume my pursuit, be this a denial of death or an acceptance of its inevitability. The one thing I am determined to do, however, is not die of my own bad strategy--i.e., going out too fast in the 1650 and suffering like a strung up hog incapable of finishing the race he started.
On an entirely different note, I invite my readers to try out a new fitness metric I blundered upon last night. I was in bed, eating Cookie Dough Ice Cream and watching The Office, resting up, as it were, for today's pursuit of a philosophic mind, when I decided to use my Azumio phone app to measure my quasi-rested heart rate. It was 42, decent enough for the night time.
It then occurred to me to check out my BMI, or body mass index, which you can do yourself right here:
Based on last night's weight, mine ended up being 24.7.
I decided next to divide my BMI by my Resting Heart Rate, coming up with a 58.8 percent reading.
What, I asked myself, if I could lose 5 lb. and lower my RHH down to, say, 38?
Improvements on both indices would increase my percent reading to 63.1 percent. It was at this point I had a eureka moment: had I inadvertently blundered upon a new ABSOLUTELY MEANINGLESS FITNESS APPROXIMATION METRIC? I decided to appendage my name to it, and acronym-ize the whole mouthful.
And with this was TAMFAM born!
How soon can we conspire to sneak the concept into the exercise physiological literature, cited by tenure-seeking post docs the world over?
I ask that my readers help me to popularize the concept by simply:
- Recording your resting heart rate tomorrow morning before you get out of bed or do anything strenuous, wink, nudge, wink
- Calculate your BMI by clicking on this link and entering your height and weight where indicated: http://www.nhlbisupport.com/bmi/
- Finally, use a calculator to divide your BMI (numerator) by your resting heart rate (denomimator) and leave your resulting TAMFAM in the comments section of this vlog, along with as much discourse as you would like to include speculating what TAMFAM might mean and why, indeed, it might not be so AM after all. (No need to leave ridicule and naysaying; I freely acknowledge that, as of this point in time, my new fitness metric is, indeed, ABSOLUTELY MEANINGLESS.)
I shall repost again sometime after the 1650 is over. If the subject is more on TAMFAM, you shall know that it has gone better, or at least as well, as could be expected.
If, on the other hand, I am back to a search for my "philosophic mind," perhaps quoting freely from the oeuvre of Kierkegaard along with select passages from Sartre's Nausea, well then, my dear friends, ye shall know that Nature has taken its predictable course, and that the Second Law of Thermodynamics remains operable still, my own pitiable example impotent to shake it from its foundations.
Until his time in the 1650 proves him sadly delusional, our aging Jim continues to force himself to hope against hope for the coming of Spring.